One hundred and twenty-one species of owls are found in the Strigiformes order, which contains the upright, broad-headed, binocular- and binaural-auditory birds of prey with keen talons and feathers designed for silent flight. The diurnal northern hawk-owl and the gregarious burrowing owl are two exceptions. Owls, like hawks and eagles, are known as raptors, or birds of prey, because they hunt, kill, and eat other animals using their sharp talons and bent bills.
Owls, on the other hand, are distinct from hawks and eagles in a number of respects. The toe of most owls is reversible, so it can point either forward or backward. They have large heads, thick bodies, soft feathers, and short tails. As with humans, the eyes of an owl are always facing forward. In most cases, owls are active at night, rather than during the day. Owls can be found in over 250 different species around the world. Except for Antarctica, they can be found on all seven continents.
Classification of Owls
Depending on whose study you read, there are between 222 and 268 different species of owl in the world. Owls belong to the order Strigiformes, which is closely related to nightjars, and are nocturnal (active at night) (Caprimulgiformes). A total of up to 18 Barn Owls and related species are included in the Tytonidae or Barn Owl family, while the remaining 194+ Owl species belong to Strigidae.
The color of an owl’s eyes can serve as a broad indicator of when it will go out hunting. This isn’t true for all owl species, but it works for most of them. Of all owl species, it is estimated that 69% are Nocturnal, 3% Diurnal, 22% are Crepuscular, and the remaining 6% of owls are yet to be discovered.
Types of owl
Two families of owls are recognized in the animal kingdom: Strigidae, which includes the common owls, and Tytonidae, which includes barn owls. The owls in this list are part of the Strigiformes order, which includes about 200 species of extant raptors. There are some species of owl that specialize in hunting fish, but for the most part they target small mammals, insects, and other birds. Except for Antarctica, the majority of Greenland, and a few isolated islands, they can be found everywhere across the planet. A parliament of owls is the literary collective noun for a group of owls, despite the fact that they are typically solitary birds.
Appearance of an owl
Owls are readily recognizable because of their huge, spherical heads and large, forward-facing eyes. A down-facing bill and soft, cryptically colored feathers round out their features. Males and females are very identical in appearance, although the female can be as much as a quarter of a size larger than her male counterpart.
Where do owls live?
Although owls can be found all across the world, no owls live in Antarctica, despite their extensive distribution. Solitary owls can be found even in areas where numerous owl species can be found in the same type of range and habitat. In spite of the fact that most owl species favor woodlands and forests, these birds may be found in a wide range of environments ranging from open areas like deserts, tundra, and grasslands to more thick marshlands and bogs. For birders, owls can be found almost anywhere, as some species have adapted to living in urban and suburban environments.
What do owls eat?
What an owl eats depends on the climate of its environment and geographic location. Despite the fact that they are all carnivores, the specifics of their diets depend on the food sources available to them. Despite the fact that some owls consume carrion, the general norm is they eat prey that they kill. Insects, small mammals, other birds, and fish are all eaten by these birds, as well as fish.
Insects are the primary food source for Scops and Screech Owls. Eastern and western screech owls are distinct subspecies of the Screech Owl. Western screech owl eats more insects than its eastern cousin, including a wide variety of spiders, slugs, and snails, as well as frogs, fish, birds, and rodents. Crayfish and gigantic carpenter ants serve as prey in Seattle, but mammals are preferred in Arizona.
How do owls digest their food?
Unlike other birds, owls cannot chew their food. They can either eat their prey whole or tear it up into smaller pieces to make it easier to swallow when they’re on the prowl. The fact that they can ingest things like bones and teeth, as well as fur and feathers, does not suggest that they can digest those things. Pellets, which they regurgitate after swallowing the indigestible items, are how they expel them. Owls that prey on birds of prey that are partially feathered can do so.
Owls’ Physique and Habitat
The physical traits of owls set them apart from other bird species. The bill and eyes of an owl are surrounded by a disk-like structure on the bird’s face, giving it its distinctive appearance. The bird’s facial muscles can slightly alter the disk’s shape, which improves the efficiency with which sound is funneled to the bird’s ears. An owl’s binocular vision is enhanced by its forward-facing eyes, which give it a better sense of depth and distance.
Ear tufts are long feathers on the side of the head that can look like ears or horns, but they are not connected to hearing in any way. The tufts on certain owls’ ears are thought to aid the bird’s camouflage by breaking up its contour, although this isn’t true for all owls. Several owls have feathered feet for insulation and to protect them from the bites or scratches of their prey during hunting.
Owls have particularly keen hearing, which allows them to hear the faint scuffling of prey even at a distance of enormous distances, even in low light or complete darkness.
Owls are one of nature’s most fascinating creatures, having a wide range of distinct traits and habits. Owls can be more easily found, identified, and enjoyed by birders who have a better understanding of these characteristics.