Owl – facts, habitat, diet and size with pictures

logo ap

Updated: September 9, 2016

Owls are the creatures of the night. Well, this may sound dreadful, but it is not actually. Owls are a pretty good bird with their cute and humanly face. Yes, they can be fierce at times, but they are regarded as good and faithful pets too. But that is not it! Owls hold lots of secrets, exciting and somehow fun facts within themselves. Here, I will try to unveil some of the facets.

But before revealing some facts, let’s have a look at the details of these birds.

Owl is one in all the nocturnal birds from the animal order. They’re typified by associate upright face, visual modality, two-channel hearing and huge feathers custom-made for silent flight. They principally prey upon little mammals, insects, little birds and a few preys upon fish; that’s associate exception, though. They can be found all throughout regions of the planet, except Antarctica and a few remote islands. Owls are generally divided into two families – True Owls and Barn Owls.

And if there is one thing that the owl is good at, that would be Camouflage.They are good in disguising and excellent in hiding themselves. They can sit still in a place for hours and blend in with the background environment. This trick is used when they hunt and when they are hiding from enemies. Nature has made them in a way to camouflage. The pattern of their feathers often resembles stones, trees and snows. However, common barn owls are exceptions. The snowy owls have nearly snow white, mimicking their background environment almost perfectly.



On the other hand, mottled wood owls display shades of brown and black which helped them to camouflage in surrounding of trees.

Apart from these scientific studies, owls are related to mythologies too. Modern western cultures symbolise owls as wisdom. In Hindu religion, An owl is the vahana of Goddess Laxmi. Not only these, American and Greek cultures have lots of superstitions that revolves around owls.

There are studies made by some group of professors that owls who lived throughout North and South America carry and collect compost back to their burrows and use it as a bait to attract dung beetles. Being known as a wise animal,they are not aware of this .

Owls are sure a creature of keen interest. Scientifically speaking they have many facts which we miss out often. Some of the interesting facts of owl are listed below:



Many owls have asymmetrical ears. They have an exquisite hearing system which helped them to pinpoint the particular origin of a sound without even seeing it. They are capable of hearing the sounds of prey underneath leaves, plants, darts and everyplace. Some owls have their ears located at different heights, which let them identify their prey even on different sound waves.

There are almost more than 150 species of owls in the world. Others have different counts and stated that there are 220 species including their diversity. The greatest varieties of owls are commonly found in the Asia continent, and only 20 types of owls can be found in the American continent. Except Antarctica, they can be traced everywhere but mostly in forested habitats.

Owls have an upright face position, which gives them a look more humanly. Unlike other birds, they have binocular vision. From outside, their eyes look like spherical but actually they are not. They have tubular shaped eyes which helped them to capture better perception and also helped them to catch prey from far distant. Though it seems they have great vision, up close they can’t see anything clear.



Owls can rotate their necks 270 degrees! That is pretty surprising and amazing. This feature help them to catch prey and defend themselves when attacked. According to scientific data, due to bone muscles, bone adaptation and patterns of blood vascular tissues and blood circulation adaption, owls can do this extraordinary thing.

Unlike most other birds, owls make almost no sound while flying. They are absolutely sound proof! They have large distinctive feathers which help them to fly without creating any sound. Large sliced feathers break air into smaller waves which avoid frictions. This characteristic helps them to hunt quickly and smoothly.

Regarding their eyes, owls have three eyelids. One for sleeping, one for blinking and one for keeping eyes clean.

Owls are carnivorous and eat small mammals, birds and insects. But their hunting and eating style is something very different from other birds.

At first, raptorial bird caught its prey and crushed them to death with its talons. Then they either swallow the whole prey or rip them off. After swallowing, the part of the prey which cannot be digested by an owl’s system is regurgitated.


Some species, like Eagle owl, not only eat large prey but they also eat up other owls too. Great bicornuate owls attack barn owls. Barred owls generally prey upon Western screech owls. Because of this method, a number of the species of owls got extinct too. It may sound harsh; however hooter oldsters let their strongest babies eat first. Healthy babies get the first priority. That means if there is the shortage of food, the weak siblings will starve to death.

In most of the owl species, the female owls are larger, more powerful than male and even more aggressive. Women owls are richer in colours too.


Although owls are mainly known for their nocturnal characters,not all species of owl are night hunter. Some species can work in the daylight too.

Owls do not usually migrate when they are in need of food since they can travel a great distance.

A group of owls is called a Parliament! This was first termed by C.S. Lewis in one of the Narnia books.


Due to their body colours, they have mastered the art of camouflage.

They also have different skills of making sounds too. Other than hooting, they do whistle and hiss. The hissing sound comes out usually when they feel threatened.

Elf owl is considered to be the smallest owl, in the whole owl family. They are 5 to 6 inches tall and weigh about one and a half ounce. They live in cacti. On the other hand, Great Grey Owls are the biggest owl ,they are about 32 inches tall.

Barn owls feed on mice mostly. They can swallow the whole mouse at once. They can eat more than a thousand mice a year.

As owls do eat a lot of rodents, they are considered as natural pest controller for farmers. An owl can eat 50 gophers a year. Many farmers use this way of pest controlling because it is is safe and cheap too.


If we can trace back to the ancient Greece, we will see that owls were considered as a sign of victory in a war. The little owl was a companion of Greek Goddess Athena, who was a Goddess of War. Again, Athena was the Goddess of wisdom. That is why owl is also considered as a symbol of wisdom.

But not only victory and wisdom, Owl also symbolizes death. Since ancient times, owls have been connected with evils, death and many other superstitions. It is said that an owl predicted the death of Julius Caesar. They have also been attached to witches and other evil things.

They have a long cultural background and their traces can be found in cave paintings in France, Egypt and in Mayan art.

Initially, Owls were found about 58 million years ago in a form of fossil.

Ornimegalonyx, the largest owl fossil who was said to be three feet tall.

Burrowing owl is one among the few owls that are active throughout the daytime, It lives below the bottom, stepping into tunnels to catch different animals as prey.

Similar to dogs they also dig their homes if required. Then, they will surround the entry of their burrows with dung and sit at the tunnel entrance throughout the day, and seems like doing nothing but in fact they are fishing for the next prey. The manure is served as a bait for dung beetles, one of the owl’s favorite victim.


Barn owls are known for their heart formed face.

However, while most owls are mostly known for their carnivorous nature, some species eat plants too! The smallest owl which is the Elf Owl, mostly lives on fruits and seeds diet.


Owls and humans always go hand in hand. Since ancient times, We can see owls in many paintings and sculptures too. Though they are carnivorous, owls are proven to be good pets. It is illegal in many countries to keep an owl as a pet, but they are pretty intelligent and sociable.

Comments are closed.