Nebraska Project WILD


Who, Who, Who Loves Owls? October 30, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — projectwild @ 9:30 AM


I do! I do! Owls are fantastically amazing and I’ll tell you why… they have silent flight, they are remarkable predators, and they can turn their head about 270° (but not all the way around).

So, let’s get into some details:

Owls have silent flight

The feathers on an owl’s wing look much like the feathers on a hawk’s, eagle’s or even falcon wing. But, the leading feathers (the ones closest to the front of the bird) have tiny, little comb-like barbs that help them fly silently through the air. These barbs break-up the air and reduce the sound of the wing moving the air. This way owls can sneak-up on their prey easier.

Owls are remarkable predators

Most owls will hunt large insects and small rodents. The tiny Screech Owl hunts mainly on moths (both are nocturnal!). The larger Barn Owl and Barred Owl hunt mainly small mammals such as mice, squirrels, voles, and ground squirrels.  They will also take reptiles, birds, and even fish. The larger Great Horned Owls will eat a wide variety of prey including Barred Owls, rabbits, and even skunks!

Like all birds, owls have four toes. But, unlike most birds that have three toes in the front and one in the back, owls have two facing forward and two facing to the back. This arrangement allows owls to efficiently catch their prey…. their HUGE talons help, too!

Owls can turn their head 270° around


In fact, they need to be able to turn their head so far around because they cannot move their eyes. Owls do not have eyeballs… they have eye tubes. The shape of their eye is more like a tube to allow for better vision. To compensate for not being able to move their eyes, owls have adapted to being able to rotate their head farther.

And, speaking of their eyeballs… they are huge! In fact, a Great Horned Owls’ eyeballs are larger than an adult human’s eyes.

Yes, owls are truly amazing birds.

When you are out at night this week, take time to listen for owls calling… The Great Horned Owl will say, “Who-Who-Who, Whooo, Whooo.” A Barred Owl will say, “Who Cooks for You, Who Cooks for you All?” And, a Screech Owl sounds like a horse whinnying. To listen to their calls, visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds website.


And, if you’re ready for a really fun time, try setting-up a nesting box in your backyard. You can find box plans at Project Nest Watch.

So now who, who, who loves owls…. ??!!


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