About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Quick fun Facts: Great Horned Owl

Most birds have eyes at each side of their head. They see a different scene with each eye. But an owl’s eyes are at the front of its head. The owl sees the same scene with both eyes, just as a human does. However, an owl cannot move its eyes in their sockets. In order to see what is beside or behind it, the owl turns its whole head.

In dim light, owls can see better than other animals. The eyes of most owls have very large pupils. The pupil, or black part of the eye, is really an opening to take in every bit of light available. An owl’s pupil can open almost to the width of the whole eye.

Those tufts of feathers that stick up like ears on an great horned owl’s head aren’t ears at all. An owl’s large ear openings are at the sides of its head. The stiff feathers around the eyes act a lot like dish antennas. They reflect sound toward the ear openings. If the sound is louder in one ear than in the other, this tells the owl that the animal is closer on that side. The owl turns its head until the sound is equally loud in both ears. Then it knows it is facing the animal.

An owl can also “hear” the height of a sound. It turns and tilts its head until it gets a perfect “fix” on where the sound is coming from. Owls eat mostly small animals that creep through grass and leaves on the ground. An owl’s keen ears can hear the tiny sounds of prey, even when those sounds come from under snow.

The hunting owl locates its prey primarily by sight during the day and by sound at night. It flies silently over the prey, brings its talons forward, and lands on the animal. After killing the prey, the owl lifts the catch to its mouth with a foot and then flies off to its eating spot, usually a tree. The stomach of an owl does not digest fur, feathers, and bones. These remains are rolled into oblong pellets which the owl coughs up a few hours after eating. The ground at the base of an owl's eating tree and the area around a nest are often littered with these pellets.

Who-o-o Is It?
It’s not easy to spot an owl. But you may be able to hear one. The great horned owl sings out, “Whoo-oo-who, who-who, who-who.” Its song is a repetition of one-two-three, one-two, one-two.

No comments: