Whooooo’s that?

Owls always have a way of captivating us with their big beautiful eyes and elusive nature. You may already know that owls also have some superb skills that enable them to navigate the night and find food to survive.

Owls have an incredible adaptation that most bird species do not have. On the leading edge of an owl’s primary flight feathers, small comb like structures, called flutings, break up the air turbulence and enable the owl to fly silently. This gives them the upper hand when sneaking up on and tackling prey. These flutings also allow the owls to use their incredible sense of hearing, uninhibited by the sound of their own wings.

Hearing is the sense owls use most when locating pray. An owl’s ears are located behind their facial feathers, often times asymmetrically. This means one ear is located higher on the head then the other, allowing the owls to better locate prey. The owl’s facial feathers, or face plate, is shaped like a disk and funnels sounds directly to the ears. Owls can even alter their facial disks at will when in pursuit of prey. Their hearing is so precise, they rarely use their eyes for hunting, making owls no match for opponents.

When not in active pursuit of prey, owls can often go unnoticed and blend right into the background. These masters of disguise have custom uniforms to best accommodate their landscape. For example, screech owls vary from light gray morphs to dark red morphs to best match the bark of a deciduous or coniferous habitat. Meanwhile, snowy owls, with their peppered white and black pattern, blend into sandy and snowy landscapes with no trouble. Burrowing owls who are active during the day, stay low to the ground where they best match the prairie and desert landscapes that lack trees.

While different species of owls often have different camouflage strategies, we can agree they are all superb owls!

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