Top 15 mind-blowing and interesting facts about the owl!
Top 15 mind-blowing and interesting facts about the owl!
Owls are generally known as enigmatic, spooky and mysterious birds. There are many myths and folklores about owls in different cultures. Owls belong to the order Strigiformes and there are more than 200 known species of this solitary and nocturnal bird. Of all these 200 species, the barn owl (Tyto Alba) is the most widely distributed species of owl. Not only this, the barn owl is most widespread of all species of birds in the whole world. Aside from the myths and folklores about this bird, owls have exceptional eyesight, hearing power, flight and much more. Here are some mind-blowing and interesting facts about the owl we bet you didn’t know before:

Top 15 mind-blowing and interesting facts about the owl!

Let’s start:

1. Owl Mythology in Different Cultures

In many of the cultures, owls are believed to be the sign of evil, bad luck and even death. This is most probably because of its solitary nature. However, in some ancient cultures, owl was and is still believed to be a good luck charm. The ancient Greece mythology says that Athena - the Goddess of Wisdom was obsessed and impressed with owls. Therefore, she granted this night bird with inner light and wisdom. Moreover, if an owl flew over a soldiers just before a battle, this was a sign of victory. In several European cultures, the owl was considered to be the ally of witches and evil. Seeing an owl at night was a sign of approaching evil and death. In many of the cultures, owls are believed to be the sign of evil, bad luck and even death. In ancient Roman tradition, people used to nail a dead owl to the door of a house so as to ward off evil spirits. They also believed that seeing an owl in dream was the sign of bad luck and robbery for the traveler. A common superstition was that the witches take the form of owls and suck blood of babies. Two of the renowned English poets of eighteenth century, Robert Blair and William Wordsworth used the Barn Owl as the ‘bird of doom”. California Newuks believed that when a person dies, he transforms into Great Horned Owls, if he/she was virtuous and brave. On the other hand, a person is doomed to become Barn Owl if he was wicked. Interestingly, in ancient times, people used to predict the weather by the sound of owl. A screeching owl was the sign of upcoming storm and sudden changes of weather. In Indian tradition, owls were believed to be the protective spirit for brave warriors. In some tribes of Kazakhstan, people worship the owl spirit. Aztec mythology says that the god of death often takes the form of an owl. There is surely much more interesting folklore about the owl.

2. Owls are among the earliest bird species!

The fossil records suggest that owls are among the earliest and oldest of bird species. These include ancient birds such as the Berruornis and the Ogygoptynx that lived over 60 million years ago.  They can live up to 25 years. Yes, the average lifespan of owls is 25 years. In United States, it’s illegal to have owls as a pet.

4. A group of owls is called?

A group of owls is called a “parliament”. Sometimes, the group is also referred to as congress.

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5. Owl has tubular eyes and has three eyelids!

Unlike most birds and animals, owls have “tubular eyes” that are attached to their skull. Owl cannot rotate their eyes so they have to turn their heads to see. In addition, they have far-sighted eyes that allow them to spot prey from far away. They can also see in dark. Interestingly, they have three eyelids.
  • Its upper eyelid closes downwards when it blinks.
  • The lower eyelid closes when the owl is sleeping.
  • The third eyelid is called as “nictitating membrane” that serves protects the eyes from dust and also keeps it moist.

owls having dark brown eyes usually prefer to hunt during the night

6. Owl's eye color indicates its hunting preferences!

Another of mind-blowing and interesting facts about the owl! Owl’s eye color speaks a lot about its hunting preference. For instance, those having dark brown eyes usually prefer to hunt during the night. Similarly, the owls having orange eyes actively hunt during twilight. Yellow –eyed owls tend to be equally active during day and night.

7. There is not even a slightest sound of owl’s flight!

Unlike other birds, owls have silent flight. There is no sound of flapping wings when they fly. This is because of presence of special feathers that break turbulence into smaller currents, and reduces sound.

8. The owl swallows its prey and barf up its bones!

Owls have a unique way of eating its prey. First it captures its prey and crushes it with its talons. Then, it engulfs the whole prey. Sometime it shreds the prey into pieces depending on its size. The digestive system of owl processes the meal and separates the hard/ indigestible parts. Finally, the owl throws up getting rid of indigestible pieces such as bones and fur of its prey.

9. The elf owl is the smallest owl species!

The elf owl is the smallest of all 200 owl species. This is 5-6 inches tall and is native to southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Moreover, the elf owl makes it home in giant saguaro cactus plants.

10. The Great Gray owl is largest of all owl species!

The largest owl species is the great grey owl with its size approximately 32 inches tall.

owl can turn its head up to 270o.

11. Owls have 14 vertebrae in their neck – humans have 7!

Humans and some bird species have 7 vertebrae in neck region. On the other hand, an owl has 14 vertebrae in neck regions. These additional vertebrae allow them greater degree of movement. Therefore, owl can turn its head up to 270o.

12. Owls do not make their own nest – they rely on other birds!

Another of interesting facts about the owl! They do not make their own next. Rather, they choose the nest abandoned by other birds and lay their eggs in it. Also, they never use the same nest twice.

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13. Owl-on-owl predation - they eat other owl species!

Owls may eat other owl species, for food, to mark the territory and other reasons. The great horned owl attacks and eats the barred owl. On the other hand, the barred owl hunts the Western screech owl.

14. Owls prefer the some owlets than others!

A baby owl is called an owlet. When the eggs hatch, the parents feed owlets. However, they prefer the stronger and older owlet over others. So, they feed the stronger one and the weaker or younger ones usually die of starvation. A group of owls is called a “parliament”

15. The Guinness world record of world’s largest owl!

The European race of the eagle owl (Bubo bubo) is the world's largest owl with an average length of 66-71 cm (26-28 in). Its weight is 1.6-4 kg (3 lb 8 oz - 8 lb 13 oz) and a wingspan of more than 1.5 m (5 ft). It has been known to abduct small cats and other animals.

16. The character of Harry Potter's owl Hedwig was played by 7 different owls!

The famous character of harry potter series – the Hedwig was plaid by seven different owls. The main owl, trained for the role was named Gizmo. Interestingly, seven different owl doubles played the role of Hedwig. These were some interesting facts about the owl. Stay tuned for more exciting and interesting content.  

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