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Fun facts about a popular raptor ALL ABOUT OWLS

Published: Thu, December 21, 2017 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Cynthia Foust

Ohio certified volunteer naturalist

Our raptor program in Canfield this past November attracted 128 people to learn more about these interesting birds in our backyards. They were not there to meet any velociraptors from the movies, but to learn about birds. Raptors are birds of prey known for their predatory habits of feeding on other animals. This group of birds possess several unique anatomical characteristics that allow them to be superior hunters.

There are several raptors in Ohio. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has lots of resources on raptors in Ohio, including owls, hawks, osprey, falcons and vultures. These birds live in our forests and in our cities. There are probably several in your neighborhood.

Seeing them fly through the air, observing them catch prey or hearing the owl hoot at night are all awesome experiences and examples of how we can enjoy the natural world around us. Many of these raptors are in our backyards throughout the year, others are raptors visiting during our winters from Canada.

Of course, one of the most popular raptors that people love to learn about and observe is owls. They are my favorite too. I thought I would share a few fun facts to help you learn more about them.

Owls have ears at different heights on their heads to pinpoint location of sounds for hunting.

Owl eyes do not move, their heads do – thus, their ability to move their heads nearly all the way around. Their vision is like using binoculars, tube-shaped to focus on prey and increase depth perception.

A group of owls is called a parliament.

Owls will hunt other owls. (Example: Great white horned owls hunt barred owls).

They are awesome hunters.

The largest North American owl is the great grey owl, which is up to 32 inches tall. The smallest owl in the world is only 5-6 inches tall, weighing about 1 Ω ounces. Its name is elf owl.

Owls weigh almost nothing. Check out some internet pictures of what they look like without feathers.

A mouse a half-mile away can be seen perfectly by a northern hawk owl.

Eating up to 1,000 mice per year, barn owls swallow their prey – all skin, bones – whole.

Owls can travel up to 70 miles over large bodies of water. The northern saw-whet owl did just that.

There are fun facts about all of Ohio’s raptors. To see some great comparisons of raptor sizes, wing descriptions, identification and more, check out this great bulletin from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources: http://go.osu.edu/raptorsinohio.

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