Blog Archive: Owls

Birdorable Elf Owl

2015 Bonanza Bird #25: Elf Owl

December 25th, 2015 in Birdorable Bonanza 2015, New Birds, Owls 2 comments

For the last 25 days we have been unveiling a new bird here and on our Facebook page every day until Christmas. Today's final bird in our Birdorable Bonanza: Advent Edition is the Elf Owl!

Birdorable Elf Owl

Elf Owls are tiny owls native to parts of Mexico and the southwestern United States. They are the world's lightest owls among the smallest. These little cuties are cavity nesters, using old woodpecker holes excavated in hardwood trees or saguaro cactus.

Despite their size, Elf Owls are still fierce birds of prey, hunting for all of their meals. They feed on a variety of insets as well as small lizards, snakes, and even infant mammals like baby rats.

Some Elf Owls migrate, while others are year-round residents. Birds that breed in the southwestern United States fly south for the winter. Birds that live in Baja California are non-migratory permanent residents in their territory.

Elf Owl
Photo by BBODO
Birdorable Spectacled Owl

Owls Have Amazing Eyes

August 21st, 2015 in Fun Facts, Owls 2 comments
Birdorable Owls Portrait

Owl eyes are pretty amazing.

They don't really have eye "balls" like humans and other animals. Instead, owl eyes tend to be more tube-shaped. Their elongated eyes are held in place by bones in the skull. Owl eyes are also relatively enormous when compared with human eyes. If a Great Horned Owl were the same size as a human, its eyes would be as large as a pair of oranges. In some owl species, the weight of the eyes accounts for up to five percent of the total weight of the bird.

Because of the shape of an owl's eyes, the bird is unable to move the eyes inside their head. They have to turn their heads around in order to look around. An owl can turn its head about 270 degrees, or about 3/4 of the way around. There are some special adaptations in owl anatomy that allow them to turn their heads so far, including extra vertebrae in the neck, and different blood vessels that keep blood flowing between the head and body.

Unlike many other bird species, owls have forward-facing eyes. This makes them appear more human-like than other birds and may contribute to their general popularity among people. Compare the forward-facing eyes on the Great Grey Owl's face to that of the American Bittern below.

and you are sure about that ?

Great Grey Owl by Rolf B. [CC BY-SA 2.0]

American Bittern by Amy Evenstad for Birdorable

Many owl species are nocturnal, but owls can see perfectly fine in the daylight as well as at night. Because of their excellent night vision, their pupils don't retract as much as in humans. Closing their eyelids halfway or more helps keep the bright light from hurting their eyes. This also gives owls the appearance of being sleepy in daylight, when in fact they may be fully awake and alert.

Owls have three sets of eyelids. Upper and lower eyelids close when the owl blinks or sleeps. A third, semi-transparent lid, called a nictitating membrane, closes diagonally across the eye. This thin layer of tissue is used to keep the eyes clean and to protect the eye while still allowing for some vision. You can see this membrane partially closed in the photo of a Barred Owl below.

Nictitating Membrane

Barred Owl with nictitating membrane visible by Philo Nordlund [CC BY 2.0]

Birdorable Eastern Screech-Owl

Nature Center Fun With Birdorable Coloring Pages

August 3rd, 2015 in Coloring Pages, In the Wild, Owls 2 comments

Are you looking for a fun and easy things for guests to do at your nature center? Our cute Birdorable bird coloring pages can be the basis for a fun and free activity. We have over 100 different coloring pages available -- and they are all free to download.

We found some of our Eastern Screech Owl pages being put to good use during a recent visit to the Green Cay Nature Center in south Florida. Green Cay has a gorgeous little animal ambassador named Oliver. Oliver is unreleaseable due to injuries he sustained in a collision with a car. In addition to cute souvenir t-shirts bearing Oliver's image, the nature center was offering coloring pages featuring our cute Birdorable version of the Eastern Screech Owl. Here's a photo of Oliver on his perch, surrounded by completed coloring page masterpieces from visiting children.

Eastern Screech Owl Coloring Pages at Green Cay Nature Center

Check out all of our coloring pages here: Free Birdorable Coloring Pages

Birdorable Tawny Owl

Our 600th Birdorable: The Tawny Owl

May 14th, 2015 in New Birds, Owls 1 comment

Today we've added our 600th Birdorable bird: the Tawny Owl!

Cartoon Birdorable Tawny Owl

The Tawny Owl is the most widespread species of owl across Europe. Tawny Owls are also found in western parts of Asia and northern Africa.

Tawny Owls are recognized by their tawny brown striped body plumage, large round heads which lack ear-tufts, and oversized brown eyes.

The Tawny Owl is primarily nocturnal, hunting prey items like small mammals and large insects. They prefer wooded habitat. They have adapted well to human development and will also inhabit parks and gardens.

The Tawny Owl joins Birdorable today as our 600th species! With the Tawny Owl, we now have 127 species found in Europe and 12 total species of owl in the Birdorable family.

Birdorable Barred Owl

Barred Owl Stealing Hats in Oregon

February 10th, 2015 in In the News, Owls 1 comment
Birdorable Barred Owl with hat

A Barred Owl in Bush's Pasture Park in the town of Salem, Oregon, has been stealing hats from joggers. The hat-loving owl swoops down and snatches hats right off the heads of unsuspecting runners. At least four people have been victimized in the last few weeks and are now forced to buy new hats.

One of the runners named Hilliard told Reuters that he was not hurt in the assault but "just dumbfounded". He said: "It was kind of amazing how it just swooped down and grabbed my hat like that. It just pulled it right off my head like it was nothing!"

The Stateman Journal, a local newspaper, asked their readers to send in names for the now-famous owl and they received more than 100 different suggestions. Our favorites are Hoodini and Owlcapone. The story of the Salem owl has been covered in the news across the country and even made it on the Rachel Maddow show where viewers were challenged to design a new owl warning sign.

The bird is believed to be collecting the hats to build a nest. Owls can be territorial and aggressive during nesting season. A new sign in the park now warns people to use caution from dusk to dawn and recommends people to wear a hard hat.