Thursday, January 20, 2011

Today's Trivia - Owls

I think owls are absolutely amazing, so this week’s trivia is all about them...

- With the exception of a few, most owls are solitary and nocturnal.

- An owl can hear a mouse 60 feet away

- Owl eggs are usually white and spherical in shape.

- Eggs are laid at intervals of 1 to 3 days, from a few to a dozen, and do not hatch at the same time. Because of this, there is a wide variation in size amongst sibling nestlings.

- Owls do not construct nests, but rather look for a sheltered nesting site or an abandoned nest in trees, underground burrows, or in buildings, barns and caves.

- An owl has three sets of eyelids.

- Owls cannot move their eyeballs.

- An owl can turn its face upside down.

- An owl can swing its head around and look behind its back.

- Owls hunt mostly small mammals, insects, and other birds though a few species specialize in hunting fish.

- The literary collective noun for a group of owls is a parliament.

- Owls live on every continent except Antarctica.

- An owl can open and close its ears

- The world's smallest owl is the elf owl (Micrathene whitneyi), which is about the size of a sparrow. It weighs as little as 31 g (1.1 oz) and is about 13.5 cm (5.3 inches) long.

- The largest owls are two of the eagle owls; the Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo) and Blakiston's Fish Owl (Bubo blakistoni), which may reach a size of 60 – 71 cm (28.4 in) long, have a wingspan of almost 2 m (6.6 ft) and an average weight of nearly 4.5 kg (10 lb).

- There are about 124 different species of owls.

- Father owls will hunt for themselves as well as for the mothers, allowing the females to keep the eggs warm. After the eggs hatch, the father spends all his time feeding the hungry young.

- Owls have flight feathers that enable them to fly at night without making any noise (there is a fringe on the edge of these feathers to lesson the vibrations). This allows them to surprise their prey. Also, the dull coloration of owls' feathers can render them almost invisible under certain conditions; another great hunting advantage.

- Owls are farsighted and are unable to see anything clearly within a few centimeters of their eyes.

- Owls perch with two toes forward on a branch and two facing the back. Where as most birds perch with three in the front and one in the back of the branch.

- In Africa, owls are generally viewed as harbingers of bad luck, ill health, or death.

- Owls have wonderful hearing capabilities which allow them to hear even the smallest movement of a rodent.

- The large eyes of an owl are equipped with a large retina and rod cells which are sensitive to light. With the combination of these two attributes, owls have some night vision, although it is their keen sense of hearing that locates the mammal at night.

- Owls can rotate their heads and necks as much as 270 degrees in either direction.

- An owl's sharp beak and powerful talons allow it to kill its prey before swallowing it whole (unless it is too big).

- The Barn Owl's hearing is so highly developed that it can hunt for its prey in total darkness.

- Owls swallow small prey whole because they have no teeth. After approximately 12 hours, they cough up the feathers, bones, and fur in a shape of a football pellet.

- Male owls weigh less and are smaller than female owls.

- One family of hungry barn owls can consume more than 3,000 rodents in a nesting season.

- Most owls actively hunt in the darkness, but several types (one example is the pygmy owl) are active during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk. In addition, the burrowing owl and the short-eared owl are active during the day.

Aren’t owls fascinating? I certainly think so.


  1. Great information, Martha. I find owls fascinating, too. I'd heard that many consider them a harbinger of bad luck---I do hope that isn't true because Tom had a little Eastern Screech owl fly into his work truck windshield a couple of weeks ago. He turned around and found the owl stunned in the middle of the road. Tucking the little fellow into his jacket to keep him warm, he took him to the local Nature Science center where they do some animal rehab. They told him that they thought it was just a concussion and that the owl would be okay. I sure hope so.

  2. I don't think of them as bad luck, Beth. They're peculiar birds, and I guess superstitions would be attached to them.

    How sweet of your husband to take the injured owl to your local Nature Science center. Most people would just continue driving. I hope the little bird is fine, too.