Owl or Tyto alba is often associated with myths that give goosebumps. Activities at night with a creepy appearance are enough to support owls with mystical stories or witches.
Myths about owls turn our attention to unique facts about them. We may know that owls can rotate their heads nearly 360 degrees, but apart from that there are many interesting facts about owls that we need to know. Here are 8 owl facts that you may rarely know.
1. Owls doesn’t Have Eyeballs
That’s right, owls doesn’t have eyeballs. An owl’s eye is not an eyeball, but is shaped like a long tube. This eye tube is immobile like humans and many other animals because it is tightly attached to a bone called a sclerotic ring.
Like other nocturnal animals, owls have extraordinary eyesight and can see very well at night. But, because they can’t move their eyes, owls have to move their entire heads to see their surroundings.
2. They Could Rotate Their Neck Until 270 Degrees
This fact may have many people know, that owls can turn their heads almost fully. Unable to move its eyes, the owl must move its entire head to see if it is dangerous or prey. Because of that, they can rotate their head up to 270 degrees, not 360 degrees huh.
If this was done by another animal, then this loop of the neck would cut off blood flow to the creature’s brain. However, owls have a blood collection system that allows their heads to rotate up to 270 degrees. They will collect enough blood to strengthen their brains and eyes when this neck movement cuts off blood circulation to their brain.
3. When Gathering, Owls Are Called Parliament
Each animal has different terms when they come together, for example a herd of goats, a group of whales, or a murder of crows for a crow. Owls also have their own name when they gather: parliament.
This term comes from the description of C.S. Lewis about owl encounters in The Chronicles of Narnia. ‘A Parliament of Owls’ is the title of Chapter 4 in a volume series called The Silver Chair.
4. The Owl was an Excellent Hunter
The body possessed by the owl really supports him as a reliable hunter. The owl can swoop and grab its prey in near-perfect silence so that the prey has no chance of escaping.
Their wings are very wide when compared to their body size, this makes owls very slow flight. Their feathers seem to be specially designed to direct the air very finely over the wings so as to minimize sound.
This ability is certainly very dangerous for prey such as rats or snakes. Not surprisingly, in a year an owl can eat more than 1,000 mice. With this ability, making owls has great potential to help farmers control rat pests that often become disastrous for their crops.
5. Some Hiss, Some Sounds Like a Horse
Have you ever heard an owl? Please note, not all owls have a distinctive ‘woooo’ sound. The big barred owl for example, when it makes a sound it will sound like a dog barking.
Meanwhile, smaller owl species such as the northern saw whet let out a high-pitched gull-like sound that sounded like the horn of a small boat. Barn owls are different again, they will make a hissing sound, even the eastern screech owl can sound like a horse.
6. Can Rotate One Finger Back Forward
Owls are a type of zygodactyl bird, meaning that they have two toes that face forward and two toes that are facing backwards. However, unlike other zygodactyls, the owl can rotate one of its hind fingers forward to help it walk and grasp its prey.
7. Many Owl Species Have Asymmetrical Ears
Some types of owls have tufts of fur on their heads that look like fox or cat ears at first glance. But please note, that these tufts are not owl ears.
Owl’s real ears are just a slit on the sides of their heads. In the gap there is a crease that can be opened with the small muscles around the face. Interestingly, many types of owls have asymmetrical ears on each side of their heads. The owl’s ears differ in height on each side. However, this is what makes them more sensitive to the location of each sound and is especially useful when hunting prey.
8. Not a Good Nest Builder
No creature is perfect, neither are owls. With all the features they have, owls can be called poor nest builders. Unlike other raptors, for examples: eagles or ravens who are excellent nest builders. In this case, the owl must admit his weakness.
Instead of building their own homes, some owls choose to move from one nest to another empty nest left by the other birds. While some types of owls choose to nest in holes in tree trunks, on cliffs, or in empty buildings. Whereas two types of owls, namely snowy owls and short-eared owls, choose to make their own homes by digging shallow holes in the ground.
Those are 8 unique facts about owls that people rarely know. The various uniqueness possessed by owls is the main attraction for breeders to continue to observe and research them.