Owls are nocturnal (who are active in the night) birds and so obviously hunt in the night. There are 133 different types of owls and more than 20 types are classified as threatened species. Nowadays very rarely owls are seen in the tropical forests because their homes are being destroyed. An owl can be easily recognised because of its unique appearance, it has a big face, huge eyes, hooked bill and claws called talons for seizing prey. It has a small body and huge wings with soft feathers so that it can silently approach its prey. The Snowy owl from the Arctic is about 60 cm long, while the Elf owl from North America is no bigger than a sparrow. Eagle owls are the largest owls, weighing about 4kgs.
Sight and Sound
Owls have good hearing capability as well as sharp eyesight. They can see ahead with both their eyes as they are in the front of their head, unlike other birds that have eyes on either side of their head. An owls eyes does not move in its socket, but an owl has a very flexible neck and is able to turn its head right around to look behind.
Owls swallow their prey whole but do not digest the bones, fur, feet or beaks. Instead the owl coughs up, these remains in the form of pellets which fall to the ground under the owls roost, where it perches. If a pellet is taken apart you can tell what the owl has eaten recently.
The Tawny owls live in northern Asia and Europe and hunts alsorts of small mammals and birds. Its prey also includes worms, snails and fish.
Throughout the world the barn owl is known as the farmers friend because it catches rats and mice that live in barns and eat grains.
Have a Look
Owls have 3 eyelids. The eyelid consists of an upper lid, lower lid and a thin layer of tissue that moves diagonally across the eye from the inside to outside cleaning the eye.
Owls cannot move their eyes from side to side but they can turn their heads three quarters of the way around. Contrary to popular belief they cannot rotate their heads completely around.
Most owls are solitary creatures but a group of owl would be referred to as a Parliament.
Some interesting facts about Owls
The Barn Owl hearing is so highly developed that they can hunt for their prey in total darkness.
Barn owls are able to consume twice as much food as other owls in comparison to their weight. One barn owl offspring is able to consume 25,000 mice a year.
The world’s smallest owl is the Elf owl which weighs 1.5 ounces and is the size of a sparrow.
Owls swallow their prey hole because they have no teeth. After approximately 12 hours they cough up the features, bones and fur in a shape of a football pellet.
Males owls are smaller and weigh less and are smaller than female owls.
Owls are found on all continents except Antarctica.
Owls mate for life.