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Owl Fun Facts!

Sep 22, 2015

Owls are some of the coolest birds around; their big eyes "wisely" watch over the world at night, their plumes sport countless variations of colors, and their quick hunting skills make them fierce predators. You probably know a fair amount about owls already, but here are some fun owl facts that might take you by surprise!

So Many Owls!

  • There are over 200 kinds of owl.
  • These are separated into two groups: barn owls and typical owls.
  • Barn owls are usually characterized by their heart-shaped faces, while typical owls generally have round faces.
  • The barn owl is pretty common - different types of barn owl live in nearly all the continents, excepting polar or desert areas. 

The barn owl is distinctive because of it's heart shaped faceThe barn owl is distinctive because of it's heart shaped faceCourtesy of Peter Trimming

They Don't All Hoot!

  • Though we typically think of owls and make a "hoo-hoo" hooting noise, actually not all owls make hooting noises, and even those who do tend to make other noises too. In fact, barn owls do not hoot at all, but rather make a screeching sound. Other owls commonly hiss, chirrup, and snap, depending on the situation. 

This burrowing owl doesn't hoot - it hisses!This burrowing owl doesn't hoot - it hisses!Courtesy of Dori

Night Owls

  • Why do we call someone a "night owl" when they prefer to be awake late at night?
  • It's because most owls are nocturnal and sleep during the day, doing the bulk of their hunting at night. This nocturnal behavior works out pretty well for owls; it means that they don't have to compete with other birds of prey during the day.
  • However, not all owls are nocturnal. Some types of owls hunt and feed during the day, whereas others stick largely to the magic hours, dusk and dawn. 

This northern hawk owl actually stays awake during the day!This northern hawk owl actually stays awake during the day!Courtesy of owlpages.com

Head Spin

  • How far around can you turn your head? Probably not much farther than your shoulder.
  • Owls, though, can turn their heads 270 degrees around, almost the whole way!
  • Scientists have discovered that owls have special blood vessel capabilities that allow them to turn their heads so far without suffering the negative effects of cut-off circulation. 

Look how far this owl can turn its head around!Look how far this owl can turn its head around!Courtesy of news.discovery.com

Big Guys

  • The Eurasian eagle owl is often considered the biggest owl in the world.
  • A full grown female's wingspan can be over 6 feet!
  • The eagle owl has some pretty intense eating habits.
  • Because of its size, it can manage much larger prey than the typical mouse or rat.
  • Eagle owls have been reported to snatch up foxes, hedgehogs, and even sometimes deer!

Check out the wingspan on this Eurasian eagle owl!Check out the wingspan on this Eurasian eagle owl!Courtesy of HT Photography

Owls are just plain awesome. They have been admired throughout history, and cultures around the world still maintain a fascination with various species of this lovely bird. 

Have Your Say!

What's your favorite type of owl and why? Our Kidzworld readers want to know!