Owl: abilities, types and all you want to know

Why owl eyes are so special?

The owl is the bird with the best eyesight in the world, which sleeps during the day and hunts at night.  Their eyes are unlike other birds, located perfectly at the front of their heads. The eyes are large, round and designed to see in dim light.

Owls’ eyes are more like tubes than eyeballs. Owl’s eyes are fixed in orbits through bony structures known as sclerotic rings.  Due to these rings, owls are unable to move their eyes. 

They have binocular vision and can see an object with both eyes at the same time.

They are also famous for their outstanding neck mobility as their neck can move at an angle of 270° that’s why they can see at a large angle. They have 14 bones in their neck unlike humans with 7 bones only. When the neck is bent, the blood is not blocked from reaching the brain, whereas if the neck of a person is bent so much, then death will occur due to the blood being blocked.

An owl flies without making any sound

The owls are also amazing.  It is the quietest breeding bird in the world.  The edges of its wings are saw-shaped which helps it to fly silently according to scientific principles.  The reason for this silent flight is that they keep listening to the voice of their prey till the end.

The owl’s flat, the half-apple-like face is also surprising.  It helps to capture the sound waves and direct them towards their ears.

An owl has special ears

Owls do not have regular ears, but holes that are hidden behind their feathers.  They are so sensitive and have great hearing that many species of owls can detect the sounds of prey hidden in up to 12 inches of snow, leaves and bushes.

Talons of an owl

 The owl has special claws known as Talons which are used to crush the head and body of their prey.

Sexual dimorphism in an owl

The female, larger than the male, is responsible for protecting the eggs and young ones in her nest, while the male only hunts.  An owl does not build its own nest but steals the nests of other birds.

What is special about eyes color of an owl?

The colour of their eyes helps to identify the time of their hunting.  Yellow-eyed owls hunt from dusk to midnight or from midnight to sunrise, brown or black-eyed owls hunt at midnight, while yellow-eyed owls hunt during the day.  There are three eyelids, one for blinking, one for sleeping and one for safety and cleaning purposes.

Owl as a predator:

They prey mostly on mice and rodents, but also eat insects, lizards, cats, ducklings, fish, birds, squirrels and other small owls.  Many owls, such as the Euro-Asian Owl, will pick up whole foxes. 

Does it attack humans?

It attacks the humans rarely. If an owl attacks a human, it can scratch your eyes and head. If there is ever a fear of coming into contact with such birds, keep the umbrella with you. Usually, the birds attack the exposed part of their enemy.

The largest and the smallest owl in the world

The largest owls in the world are the Euro-Asian Eagle-Owl and Blakiston’s Fish Owl, which grows up to 28 inches.  While the smallest owl is the Elf Owl which are 5 to 6 inches tall and weighs up to 31 grams.

Role of an owl in ecosystem

In many countries such as England, farmers make their nests in fields because they are excellent at keeping rats and rodents away.  Many species of owls eat one to three thousand mice a year.

Species of an owl

Owls are divided into two main types. 

1. Round-faced i.e. Strigidae

2. Heart-faced i.e. Tytonidae while in total there are more than 220 species.  They are present in every continent of the world except Antarctica, 19 species have been discovered in Pakistan so far.

Owls are rarely preyed upon by animals, occasionally preying on foxes and wild cats, yet about 30% of their species are threatened with extinction.  In the United States and many other countries, it is a crime to hunt or keep them.

 A young baby owl is called an Owlet and a group of owls is called a Parliament

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