10 Interesting Facts About Owls

January 23, 2020 / 4 min read 


Owls are intriguing and mysterious birds that aren’t that easy to spot in nature. Being so diverse – more than 200 species – they truly are a mystery to the untrained eye. Here we are going to unravel some of that mystery and hopefully answer the questions you had regarding these amazing nocturnal birds of prey.


Owls Have Super-Hearing Capabilities

 Depending on the species, there are owls with asymmetrical ears. However, this isn’t a disadvantage but rather an advantage that enables them to be such good nocturnal hunters. Namely, some owls have their ears located at different heights on their head so they’re able to pinpoint the exact location of their prey. This is how they’re able to hear their prey even if it’s hidden under snow, plants, or leaves.


They Can Turn Their Heads Almost All the Way Around

It’s a myth that owls can literally rotate their heads around, but they do come close. These birds can turn their heads up to 270 degrees, or 135 degrees in each direction. This gives them the ability to respond to threads quickly or quietly spot a prey moving somewhere around them without wasting time on turning their bodies and scaring off their potential food.


Eyeballs or Something Else?

Many people would be surprised to find out that the owls actually do not have true eyeballs. In fact, they have tube-shaped eyes that are immobile. However, again, evolution has turned this into an advantage for this bird hunter. Namely, this boosts depth perception, allowing them to have binocular vision that fully focuses on the animals they’re hunting.


Great Hunters Hunting They Own Species

These great hunters leave nothing behind. While they do exist in 200 species and are scattered all across the globe, some species do meet and even hunt each other. Thus, the large Horned Owls with their size and strength can and do hunt their smaller relatives the Barred Owls.


They Can Turn Their Heads Almost All the Way Around

It’s a myth that owls can literally rotate their heads around, but they do come close. These birds can turn their heads up to 270 degrees, or 135 degrees in each direction. This gives them the ability to respond to threads quickly or quietly spot a prey moving somewhere around them without wasting time on turning their bodies and scaring off their potential food.


The Most Diverse Species by Size and Weight

Another thing that makes these nocturnal birds so fascinating is how diverse in size across species they are. For instance, the tiniest owl species ever recorded are the Elf Owls which are 5 - 6 inches tall and weigh an incredible 1 ½ ounces. This is unbelievable when compared to the largest North American owl – the Great Gray Owl which is up to 32 inches tall.


Not All Owls Sound Like Owls

Many people have a perception that all owls, in general, make the hooting sound, but in reality, they differ in this too. In fact, the Barn Owls are known to make hissing sounds, the Saw-whet Owls sound like a whetstone sharpening a saw (hence the name), and the Eastern Screech-Owl is famous for its horse whining sounds.


The Way They Eat is Unique

The way owls eat is also peculiar to their species. Namely, they swallow their prey whole or rip it in half depending on the size and eat it together with the bones and skin. Later, their stomach makes pellets out of everything that’s indigestible, and the owl regurgitates.


Owls’ Flight is Silent

Owls make no noise when flying. This is due to their special feathers that no other bird has and it helps break turbulence into smaller currents. This is a great advantage when approaching their prey without being noticed


Camouflage Masters

In order for them to prey and hunt at night, most of the owls sleep during the day. However, in order to protect themselves from other predators, owls have become the masters of disguise with the colors and markings on their feathers that let them blend with their surroundings.


A Sign of Victory

In ancient times owls were a sign of victory in battle and overall success. Also, back then, owls represented knowledge, learning, and wisdom. They were considered to protect armies going into battle, so as such, they were well-respected and praised.


Written by: Monika Boshkova