When it comes to birding, there is no shortage of magic moments. Whether observing songbirds from the comfort of our home or backyard or getting out in the field and tracking them down, the connection we feel to them and nature is otherworldly.
While we each have our preference to different species, when it comes to truly unique birding experiences, not much can match the excitement of spotting a large raptor such as one of our owl species either in flight or perched up in a tree.
There are roughly 200 species of owls on our big, beautiful planet and we are fortunate that 16 of those species call Canada home. Given their elusive habits, spotting one can be a challenge, but one definitely worth pursuing. With that in mind, we have compiled a quick list of five interesting facts about these large raptors that you might not have known!
Spotting one owl in the wild is a difficult task all on its own but in the event, you happen to stumble across one or more, it’s worthwhile to know the proper terminology. Much the same as many other bird and animal species, owls have a unique name for a group of one or more. Fitting to our location here in the Nation’s Capital, a group of owls is actually referred to as a Parliament.
That Neck Though…
It’s not a secret to many birders that owls have an uncanny ability to shift their unwavering focus and one way they do that is by the rotation of their necks. With swivel-like ability, owls are able to turn their necks up to 270 degrees in rotation to address predators and prey alike.
Speaking of Predators…
When it comes to meat-eating birds like owls, we often think of them of apex predators of sorts. While they do not have a large cohort of predators, the Barred Owl definitely does. Great Horned Owls are actually the top predator of the Barred Owl, dining on their eggs, young and occasionally mature adults.
One sure-fire way to locate owls in the field is to look for pellets on the ground. These discarded remains of prey are often a telltale sign that an owl is close by and has recently enjoyed a satisfying meal. This said, when it comes to the Barn Owl, they will actually swallow their prey whole – including all the bones.
Hunting primarily at night, an owl’s vision is incredibly important to their hunting success. Their eyes are completely immobile, which gifts them with incredible binocular vision and a boost in depth perception, which comes in handy for scooping up prey on the ground.