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Fun Facts About Owls

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Who wants to learn more about owls? Check out these wild and wacky fun facts about owls.

Fun Facts About Owls

Basic Facts About Owls

Owls are primarily nocturnal birds, which means they are awake and active at night.

Owls are carnivores; they eat meat (typically insects, reptiles, and small mammals like mice).

They are known for their hunting ability.

You can find owls on every continent of the world except Antarctica.

There are 249 different species of owls. Although most owls are on the large size for birds, some are very small.

Now that you know some basic facts about owls, let’s move on to fun facts!

Fun Facts About Owls

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12 Fun Facts About Owls

Some of these amazing facts about owls will surprise you!

Owls Have Super Flexible Necks

When you turn your head from side to side, you can only turn it 90 degrees in either direction.

Owls can turn their heads 270 degrees in either direction!

Imagine turning your head over your left shoulder and then continuing to spin it until you look over your right shoulder. An owl can do that!

Owls need this neck flexibility because they have forward-facing eyes (other birds have eyes on the sides of their head).

Their forward-facing eyes help them see better in the dark when they hunt, but this means they have little peripheral vision.

They must swivel their heads to see what is on their right, left, or behind them.

Owls Are the Best Night Hunters

Owls are the most efficient animals that hunt at night (including foxes, badgers, and leopards).

They catch their prey most of the time.

Owls have keen eyesight (even in the darkness), razor-sharp talons with a powerful grip, and a silent flight.

That’s right! An owl makes virtually no noise when it flaps its wings, so it can sneak up on its prey and catch it by surprise.

Owls Have “Binonocular Eyes”

You have an eyeball. That means your eyes are ball-shaped, although only the front part of the eye is visible from the outside.

Owls don’t have eyeballs! Their eyes are tube-shaped, like a pair of binoculars.

Your eyeballs are attached to muscles inside your head, and you can roll your eyes up, down, left, and right.

Owls can’t do that with their binocular eyes.

But their binocular eyes do have an advantage.

When they focus on an object (like their prey), they see it distinctly—100 times better than you!

Their incredible eyesight is just another reason why owls are such great hunters!

Fun Facts About Owls

Female Owls Are Attentive Mothers

A female owl does not build a nest. She takes over the abandoned nests of other birds.

Once she lays her eggs, she will not leave her spot.

She guards the eggs until they hatch (this can take up to a month).

Thanks to the power of teamwork, she doesn’t starve. The male owl brings her food while she sits on the nest.

Owls Make Pellets of Bits and Bones

Owls have incredibly sharp beaks, but they can’t chew their food. They have to swallow it whole.

Because the owl can’t pick and choose what part it consumes, not all its prey can be digested.

Bones, fur, and other bits that the owl cannot digest are regurgitated back up the owl’s throat and out its mouth.

It resembles a large pellet of bones, fur, and other bits.

Finding fresh pellets on the forest floor is a tell-tale sign that an owl is nearby.

You can even dissect the pellet, identify the bones, and discover what the owl has been eating. (You can even buy owl pellets to dissect!)

Owls Ears Don’t Line Up

If you look in the mirror, your ears are perfectly lined up and symmetrical.

Owls’ ears aren’t like that. They are asymmetrical, and for good reason.

Owls must rely on their excellent hearing to detect the location of their prey.

A tiny rustle of leaves alerts an owl that a mouse or squirrel is scuttling along the forest floor.

The owl’s asymmetrical ears allow it to hear sounds coming from more directions, which helps it locate its prey.

Fun Facts About Owls

A Gathering of Owls Is Called a Parliament

Owls are typically solitary creatures. Like most hunters, they defend their territories.

But in the cold winter, you may see some groups of owls huddle together for warmth.

What is this group called? A parliament! The name has been around since the 1300s (Geoffrey Chaucer coined it).

Groups of owls are also sometimes called a “congress” or a “stare” (because no one stares quite like an owl!).

The name “parliament of owls” is the most popular of all the terms, thanks to The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis.

In the book The Silver Chair, C.S. Lewis refers to a gathering of wise and talkative owls as a parliament. Readers loved the name and latched on to it.

The Tiniest Owl is the Elf Owl

Although most owls are large, the elf owl is small. It is five to six inches from tip to tail.

It weighs only 1.5 ounces. That’s about as much as half a banana.

If you handle an elf owl (and please don’t), it will play dead.

This is an escape maneuver. When it is in the grip of a predator, the elf owl will play dead.

The predator then relaxes its grip, thinking the struggle is over. This gives the elf owl a chance to slip away.

Barn Owls Eat More Mice Than Cats

If you have a barn infested with mice, thank your lucky stars if a Barn Owl moves in.

Not only are Barn Owls superior hunters, but they also eat a lot of mice!

The average Barn Owl eats up to 1,000 mice a year.

Cats only eat one mouse per day.

Fun Facts About Owls

Not All Owls Hoot

What sound does an owl make? Is it “who, who, who”?

Sometimes, but not always.

Barn Owls hiss and scream, Eastern Screech Owls screech (but it sounds like a horse’s whinny), and Saw-whet Owls sound like a sharpening saw.

All owls use a variety of sounds, including hoots, whistles, and screeches, to communicate with one another.

Owls Have a Backward-Facing Toe

Owls are zygodactyl, which means they have forward-facing and rear-facing toes.

Most owls have four toes. Three point to the front. One points backward.

However, when the owl is perching on a branch or clutching prey, the backward toe swivels around and faces forward, too!

Owls Don’t Make Good Pets

Although you may have fallen in love with owls after reading these fun facts, don’t buy one as a pet.

Owls do not make good pets for several reasons.

First of all, their beaks and talons are incredibly sharp. Some owls grip their talons with a pressure of three hundred pounds per square inch!

Second, owls require live food. You would need a supply of fresh living creatures like mice and lizards.

Third, owls have a long life span. Some live up to 30 years of age! That’s quite the commitment for pet ownership!

Fun Facts About Owls

Books About Owls

Did you love these fun facts about owls? You can learn more by checking out these books about owls.

National Geographic Readers: Owls

New readers will delight in these feathered friends. This book is a simple Level 1 reader with glossy photographs.

All Things Owls for Kids

This book contains fun facts and information for kids interested in owls.

Owls of the World: A Photographic Guide

This book of lush photographs of all 249 species of owls is the ultimate guide to owls.

12 Owl Fun Facts

These fun facts about owls are just the tip of the wing!

Owls are genuinely unique birds!

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