Thursday, February 12, 2009

Who Cooks for You...Who cooks for You All...

Oh my! What was that racket the other morning at the crack of dawn??? It was the owls! It was the owls!

The Barred Owl is one of the most common species of owls in our area. They are medium sized, gray-brown streaked with white horizontal barring on the chest and vertical barring on the belly. They are round-headed with a whitish/brown facial disk with dark brown trim. An unusual trait but quite endearing are their dark brown eyes. I am always a sucker for brown eyes. Hehe. The females are larger than the males.

This is the time of year when the Barred Owls nest! They are among the first nesting birds of the year. Yes! Spring is on the way.  

Owls have so many cool adaptations that make them a totally unique bird.
  • Owls can rotate their heads three-quarters of the way around!  They are unable to move their eyes from side to side but are fixed in the sockets. Those eyes are huge and capable of gathering a lot of light from the most dimmest sources. Most beneficial for their nocturnal habits.
  • Owls are capable of "silent flight". The wings are large and have fringed edges so air passes through silently during flight. This makes the owls job much easier when hunting prey.  Sneaky birds.
  • Owls are predators. They catch, kill and eat other animals in order to survive. If their prey is small enough they are able to swallow it whole otherwise they rip and tear it up with their powerful talons and beak and swallow it in chunks. The bird then digests the good stuff and expells the rest in the form of a pellet. A pellet is a kind of hairball. Most often there is a complete skeleton  inside. What a fun thing it is to dissect an owl pellet and try to ID the bones!
  • Owls have the best hearing of all birds. Their ears are located on the sides of their heads and hidden by feathers. The shape of the face and location of ears enable the bird to pick up sound waves at incredible levels. They can detect a mouse or vole as it moves under the snow or in the leaves as it perches way up in a nearby tree. 

"And if anyone knows anything about anything, it's Owl who knows something about something..."

1 comment:

  1. birds. Nature. I wish we had owls in my neighborhood!