OWL

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Strigiformes
SIZE: Height: Typical owl, 5 to 28 inches (13 to 71 centimeters) tall; barn owl, 9 to 21 inches (23 to 53 centimeters) tall
WEIGHT: Typical owl, 1.5 ounces to 9 pounds (42.5 centimeters); barn owl, 8 ounces to 3 pounds 227 grams to 1.36 kilograms)

Owls can turn their heads as much as 270 degrees.

A group of owls is called a parliament.

Did you know that an owl can hear a mouse stepping on a twig from 75 feet (23 meters) away? Every owl has two huge holes in its skull for ears, along with a facial disc that channels sound into the ear openings. Owl ears don’t look like our ears, but they are incredibly good at picking up sounds.

Vision: Animals that are active at night usually have large eyes that let them make use of any available light. With owls, the eyes are so big in comparison to the head that there is little room for eye muscles, meaning owls can’t move their eyes. Instead, owls must move their entire head to follow the movement of prey. However, having fixed eyes gives owls better focus, with both eyes looking in the same direction. And even though it seems that owls can twist their head completely around, most owls turn their head no more than 270 degrees in either direction.

Feathers: Another important adaptation for owls is silent flight. Where other birds have stiff feathers that make a whooshing sound when they fly, owl feathers have soft edges that allow the birds to fly silently. This is important for owls, as they can swoop down on prey without being heard. The only exceptions are the fishing owls, because hunting over water does not require them to fly silently.

LIFE SPAN

20 years or more

YOUNG

Number of eggs laid: 1 to 14, depending on food supply; 2 to 6 is average

Incubation period: 15 to 35 days, depending on species

SIZE

Height: Typical owl, 5 to 28 inches (13 to 71 centimeters) tall; barn owl, 9 to 21 inches (23 to 53 centimeters) tall

Weight: Typical owl, 1.5 ounces to 9 pounds (42.5 centimeters); barn owl, 8 ounces to 3 pounds 227 grams to 1.36 kilograms)

FUN FACTS

Owls have a reversible outer toe that can be pointed forward or backward, depending on the owl’s position, to ensure a secure hold on its prey.

Satellite tracking studies indicate that the snowy owl’s range is huge, with some birds flying more than 800 miles (1,287 kilometers) in just 11 days.

Most owls live in trees, but burrowing owls live in underground burrows.

Even the Arctic has owls, where the cold tundra is home to snowy owls. Thick, warm feathers cover even their bills and toes, providing effective insulation against roaring winds and freezing temperatures.