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17 Fun Facts About Owls in 2023: That Might Surprise You!

Owls are some of the most well-known birds in the world. They’re known for their eerie calls, their unique appearances, and their intelligence. But did you know that there are more than 200 different species of owls in the world?

Or that owls can see in nearly all directions at night? In this article, we’ll share 17 fun facts about owls that might surprise you!

Fun Facts About Owls

The sound an owl makes is called “hooting”.​​​​​​​

The sound an owl makes is called “hooting” which is caused by air moving through their lungs as they exhale.​​ The sound of an owl hooting can be heard for a mile or more away from the source, and it can echo off hillsides and buildings to carry even farther. ​​​​​​​

Some owls live in holes dug into tree trunks, or on the ground.

Many owls are found in forests and can live in tree trunks or make nests on the ground. One type of owl, the burrowing owl, lives most of its life underground where it digs a nest with its claws into an old tree trunk to keep warm. The long-eared owl is another species that builds nests in holes dug into trees.

Related Post: Really cool Burrowing Owl Facts

A burrowing owl coming out of it's burrow.
Image by Denis Doukhan from Pixabay

Owls have a heart rate of 300-600 beats per minute.

One adaptation that may not be as well known is their high heart rate, which ranges from 300-600 beats per minute. A normal human heart rate ranges between 60-100 beats per minute.

One reason for the higher rate in owls is their constant need to maintain warmth by regulating their body temperature through cooling down or warming up feathers.​​​​​​​

Some Owls Can Turn Their Heads 270 Degrees Around.

There are different species of owls, and they all have their own characteristics. Some can turn their heads 270 degrees around, some cannot. The typical bird has a 180 degree range of movement, but the owl’s neck is designed to twist its head around which enables it to see in almost every direction. ​​​​​​​

There are about 200 Owl species in the World.

Owls are among the most diverse groups of birds in the world, with about 200 species found on every continent except Antarctica. Though only 19 species live in North America, they make up one-third of all bird species here.

The owl has 14 vertebrae, which is twice as many as humans.

The owl has 14 vertebrae, which is twice as many as humans. These extra vertebrae allow for a wide range of movement and flexibility in the neck that allows them to turn their head 270 degrees either way and look behind themselves without moving their body.

Owls have over 200 bones in their body. 

Owls are incredible creatures with a surprising number of bones in their body. The bones in an owl’s wings make up only 2% of the wing’s total weight, but they provide a crucial amount of support for flight. An owl has more than 200 different types of bone that account for about 9% of its total body weight.​​​​​​​

The Northern Pygmy Owl is the cutest owl out there! 

The Northern Pygmy Owl has a heart shaped face, making it the cutest owl out there! The little pygmy is native to Canada and Alaska and can often be found in forests near rivers or lakes. ​​​​​​​

A eurasian pygmy owl perched o a tree.
Image by Erik Karits from Pixabay

The Elf Owl, is the smallest species of owl on earth. 

The Elf Owl, is the smallest species of owl on earth. They are typically 5-6 inches tall and have a wingspan of about 10-11 inches  with an average weight of 1.5 ounces (42.5 grams).

They live in both South America and North America.​​​​​​​ It can be found living on plantations, orchards, parks and gardens where it eats insects like crickets, moths and beetles. ​​​​​​​

Owls have excellent night vision.

Owls are unique creatures, with a natural ability to hunt at night. They have large forward-facing eyes and binocular vision for excellent night vision. These amazing adaptations make them perfect hunters in the dark of night.​​​​​​​

Owls can’t move their eyes.

Owls are known for their round, bulging eyes. But what you may not know is that they cannot move their eyes in their sockets, and so they have to turn their heads to look around.​​​​​​​

Owls have asymmetrical ears to help them locate prey with sound.

Owls are nocturnal predators and rely on their sense of hearing to locate prey. The asymmetrical ears, one is larger than the other, provide a broader range of sound detection which aids in locating potential food sources or prey.

Owls have incredible hearing ability

Owls have the best hearing of any animal. They can hear a mouse moving on the ground, or an insect rustling in leaves from up to two miles away. This is because owls have asymmetrical ears and three separate ear openings for better directional hearing.

In contrast, humans have symmetrical ears with only one opening per ear that points forward and to each side, limiting our ability to detect sounds coming from behind us.

An owl peeking out of a hole in a tree.
Image by Jaap de Leeuw from Pixabay

Owls have 3 eyelids.

Owls have 3 eyelids. These three lids are the nictitating membrane, a thin layer of tissue that protects the eye from dust and injury; the cornea, which is responsible for about two-thirds of an owl’s vision; and finally, a third lid called the haw. The owls use their haw to protect their eyes while they’re hunting prey in close quarters like tree branches or deep crevices.​​​​​​​

Owls live in all parts of the world except for Antarctica.

Owls are found in all parts of the world except for Antarctica.  This is because owls cannot live in a place where they do not have any trees to roost on, and there are no trees on the Antarctic continent. These nocturnal birds of prey have a wide variety of habitats, including deserts, forests, and even rainforests. 

The biggest owl is Blakiston’s Fish Owl.​​​​​​​

The biggest owl in the world is Blakiston’s Fish Owl, measuring 25-28 inches in length and weighing an average of 7.5 pounds, with a 6 ft wingspan.

They live near large bodies of water and feed on fish, crustaceans, amphibians, small mammals and reptiles. Blakiston’s Fish Owls are found near large bodies of water like lakes or rivers. 

Owls hooked beaks to help them rip flesh from their prey.

Owls don’t have teeth, but they do have hooked beaks to help them rip flesh from their prey. These beaks are so sharp that some owls can tear the feathers off of their prey with just one swipe. The beak is used like a knife as it cuts through the meat and pulls it back out.

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