Looking for fun and mysterious facts about owls?
Then you’re in the right place…
What is special about an owl?
And what do they symbolise?
Keep reading if you want to discover 15 amazingly interesting and mysterious facts about owls…
Table of Contents
Owls: A Brief Summary
So, you want to learn more about owls? Well, in that case, you’ve come to the right place.
Owls have amazing night vision, are excellent flyers and are brilliant hunters.
If someone refers to you as “wise like an owl” then you should take it as a compliment as owls represent intelligence and wisdom.
Owls are not only regarded as one of the smartest types of birds out there but they’re also one of the most represented.
If you go into a gift shop then you’re likely to find a fair few items with owls on them, such as charms, mugs, scarfs, and figurines.
Everyone loves an owl and for good reason, those feathery, wide-eyed hooters are the cutest.
Fun Facts About Owls
Below are 15 amazing fun owl facts complete with explanations.
1. There Are Over 200 Species Of Owls
The most commonly found species is the Great Horned Owl, which is well populated in both North and South America.
One of the rarest owls in the world is the Blakiston’s Fish Owl.
This endangered owl has colorful feathers and is the largest of the owl species. It can only be found in Russia, China, and Japan.
There are 2 types of the owl family, the Barn Owl has a heart-shaped face and is part of the Tytonidae family, while all other owl species are part of the Strigidae family.
Although each type of owl differs in appearance, they all have an upright stance, sharp talons, superb night vision and feathers adapted for silent flight.
2. A Group Of Owls Is Called A Parliament
If you see a group of owls together then they’re called a parliament.
This name stems from their “wise” and “intelligent” depictions throughout history.
3. Owls Have Large Eyes And A Flat Face
An owls face appears flattered because of its dense feathers.
Their unusual face shape means that they have great hearing, as more sound is directed into their ears.
Their large eyes mean that they pick up a lot of light rays.
They don’t have the best color vision but their night vision is exemplary.
At the back of their eyes is the tapetum lucidum which translates as “bright tapestry” in Latin.
This a layer of tissue in the vertebrates of the eye which is a retroreflector, meaning that it acts as a mirror.
4. Most Owls Are Nocturnal
Most birds of prey can be found hunting during the day but the owl is predominantly a night bird.
Being nocturnal means that there are less competition and danger for this bird as it hunts.
Owls have amazing speed and night vision, so they’re ideal night hunters.
Although most owls only come out at night, others are crepuscular, which means that they are active during the daytime.
5. Owls Have Powerful Talons
Owls have seriously strong talons.
In fact, their grip is around 10 times stronger than the average humans…yikes!
Because their talons are so strong and sharp most of their prey is killed instantly.
Their feet comprise of a bony structure which helps them to withstand the force of impact when they attack their prey.
They have 4 toes when perching 3 of these face forwards and 1 back which helps aid their balance.
6. Many Owl Species Can Turn Their Heads 270 Degrees
Owls can only see straight forward but this doesn’t deter them when they’re hunting because they can almost turn their heads all the way around.
The Barred Owl can turn its head an impressive 270 degrees in each direction.
The owl’s neck is specially designed to withstand all this head-turning without them damaging themselves.
7. A Baby Owl Is Called An Owlet
A baby bird is still regarded as an owlet when its plumage hasn’t fully developed and it’s still dependent on its parents to provide food for it.
An owlet has fluffy down and clear markings.
They can’t fly but do sometimes leave the nest to roam nearby branches so that they can strengthen their wings.
Owls are fiercely protective of their young and have been known to attack other birds, animals and even humans who they believed posed a threat to them.
Dozens of smaller owl species are also referred to as owlets, such as the Spotted Owlet and the Chestnut Owlet.
8. Owls Mainly Hunt Small Rodents, Insects, Small Mammals, And Fish
Most owls aren’t fussy and will hunt whatever prey is in their sights.
Although small rodents such as mice and voles are commonly hunted by then, they also eat insects and depending on their surroundings fish.
What an owl eats is also variable by their species, Barn Owls mainly prey on mice, shrews, and voles while the Eagle Owl is known to prey on hares and game birds.
Regardless of their meal choices, their amazing eyesight and strong hearing allow them to expertly locate their prey.
9. They Are Silent Flyers
Owls are known as the silent predators of the night and for good reason.
Their special feathers break turbulence into smaller currents which means that the sound is reduced.
Their soft down and feathers also help muffle and absorb sound. This makes them excellent birds of prey because they can swoop through the air and fly to within inches of their prey without being heard.
10. Owls Are Great at Blending into their Surroundings
Most owls sleep perched high up in trees but they are seldom spotted.
Their colors and markings mean they can blend into their surroundings while staying out of harm’s way.
Amazingly, owls can also make themselves larger or smaller to fit in with their surroundings.
11. Some Cultures Regard Owls As A Symbol of Death
This is one of the most mysterious facts about owls!
In some cultures seeing an owl is said to bring with it a bad omen.
In Mexico, they believe that the owl represents darkness, magic, and death.
The Kikuyu of Kenya believed that seeing an owl or hearing the hoot of one would signal that someone was going to die.
Although some cultures still regard the owl as a bad omen, in Japan they believe that owls bring good fortune, luck, and protection and that’s why owl charms are commonly worn.
12. They Can’t Chew Their Food
When an owl catches its prey it swallows it in one.
Most birds have a crop, which is used as a storage place for their bodies to digest the food later on but owls don’t have this.
Owls have weak stomach acid which means that they can’t digest bones, feathers or fur.
So, you guessed it, the only way for them to rid their bodies of these things is to throw them up in pellets…yuck!
If you pull one of these pellets apart then you should find enough bones to be able to determine what their prey was.
As gross as this is, it makes monitoring owls eating habits pretty easy.
13. Owls are Known to Mate for Life, Although 25% of Them Leave their Partner for Someone Else
Most owls mate for life unless of course, they decide that their mate isn’t compatible and then they might decide to leave them.
When owls go off each other, they will make fewer and fewer eggs per brood.
The male owl always gets to keep the nest, while the female owl has to go and find a new home.
14. An Owl’s Home Is Called A Roost
An owls home is called a roost. They return here after they’ve been out hunting.
Although most owls roost alone some species roost together so that they can huddle for warmth and be on the lookout for predators.
Roosts are often found close to good hunting spots so that owls don’t have far to go to find their prey.
15. Not All Owls Hoot!
So here’s the end of our facts about owls list…
Most owls do indeed hoot BUT not all of them do.
The Eastern Screech Owl makes a horse-like sound…yes, really…a horse!!!
The types of owls that do hoot also commonly make other sounds too, such as chirping, whistling.
Screaming, screeching, barking, shrieking and growling.
The “twit twoo” call is made by both the male and female Tawny Owl when they’re communicating with each other.
FAQs: Commonly Asked Owl Questions Answered
Now that we’ve covered our favourite facts about owls, here’s some of the most common owl FAQs answered…
Are you wondering why owls are regarded as wise? And if they’re classed as dangerous? Read below to find out.
Question 1: Why Are Owls Seen As Wise?
Owls are known as the wisest bird out there.
They are depicted as “wise” in many books and films, such as Owl in Winnie the Pooh.
Where does the owls’ wise reputation come from?
The Greek Goddess of wisdom Athena is often depicted with owls. She regarded them as wise creatures with an inner light.
In The Bible, owls are also seen as a symbol of great wisdom and intelligence.
Question 2: Are Owls Dangerous?
Owl attacks on humans are rare and usually only happen because the owl believes them to be a threat to their young, mate or territory.
Most people that have fallen victim to an owl attack escape with minor injuries.
Question 3: Do Owls Eat Cats And Dogs?
The Great Horned Owl is known to eat cats and small dogs but doesn’t worry, as this is on rare occasions.
However, if you live in an area where The Great Horned Owl is found then it is advisable that you don’t leave small dogs outside unattended and you keep your cat indoors.
Question 4: Which Owl Types Are In The Harry Potter Film Series?
Many owl breeds appear in the Harry Potter film series, including an Eagle Owl which is owned by Draco Malfoy and the Weasley’s owl Errol which is a Great Gray Owl.
The most well-known owl from the series is Harry’s owl Hedwig, which is a Snowy Owl.
Hedwig is meant to be a female owl but is actually played by males. This is because male Snowy Owls have whiter plumage, fewer markings and are smaller.
Some of the names of the owls who have played this role are Gizmo, Oops, Kasper and Bandit.
Question 5: How Can You Tell The Male And Female Owls Apart?
Usually, the owl’s gender can be told apart by their size.
In fact, the female Barred Owl is around a third larger than her male partner.
Experts believe that the female is larger so that she can more effectively defend her young from predators.
Male birds are thought to be smaller and more agile so they at better at aerial defense.
Question 6: What Is Special About Owls
Owls are a beautiful and unique bird that has been both worshipped and feared for thousands of years.
They all have an upright posture, can turn their heads up to 270 degrees and are silent flyers.
They’re one of the most popular bird types out there and they come in many different shapes and sizes and are expert hunters.
They take pride in their nest and protect their young. I think that this is reason enough to regard them as a pretty special bird.
It’s An Owls World
Well, that’s it for our facts about owls:
This majestic bird is not only world-renown for it’s hunting abilities, night time flying and distinctive “hoot hoot” sound but it’s also regarded as a symbol of wisdom and luck in certain cultures.
Yes, some countries don’t like owls and believe they represent death but I like to think that owls are good luck.
Whether your favorite is the Snowy Owl or the Tawny Owl, it’s clear that they’re all remarkable in their own right and are an important part of the world’s bird population.
I hope you enjoyed these facts about owls – and that you now know everything you’d like to know about them.
Now it’s time for me to swoosh away. Hoot, hoot!