Thursday, October 13, 2011

Owls: Silent but Deadly

Anyone who has been following my blog knows what an animal fact nut I am, and side note: if you ever go to any zoo or park with me I give an amazing tour.  But, back to owls, everyone knows owls as the silent predator.  They are mostly gliders to be able to fly without excessive flapping.  But the question is why would they want to be quiet hunters?  The general public believes it is so they can sneak up on their prey, but owls are very quick by the time they spot a mouse or rodent it is very likely to become their dinner.  They need to be quiet so they can hear their prey.  Mice and other rodents, live on the forest floor and blend in decently with the foliage.  It isn't easy to spot them, but they make lots of scratching noises while they dig for seeds and nuts.  Owls have another neat attribute that their ears are very lopsided, one is high the other is low.  You will often see owls cock their head at odd angles, this just enhances the juxtaposition of their ears to either hear a scratching mouse down below or listen for enemies up above.  Their silent flying allows them to zero in to scratchy mice down below. 

Owls also have amazing eyes, think of how big their eye to head ratio is.  Their eyes are tubular rather than round allowing more light to enter the eye to give maximum brightness.  This tubular shape makes the owl farsighted, they cannot see close up very well (giving more reason to need that specially adapted hearing).  The tubular shape doesn't allow the eyes to move, so their neck can flex 270 degrees in either direction and 90 degrees vertically to compensate. 

That's it for now, if you have an animal you want me to write about let me know!  Every animal has a story and reason why it looks and acts the way it does.
Lots of love,

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