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Owl Facts

Owls live on every continent, except Antarctica and they have developed unique talents, depending upon the area that they live in.

Facts about Owls for Kids

  • There are 216 species of throughout the world
  • Some hunt during the day, others hunt during the night
  • A group of owls is called a parliament.
  • They have very powerful claws to help them catch and kill prey
  • The smallest in the world is the elf owl at 12.5oz (40g)
  • The biggest in the world is the Eurasian Eagle Owl at 4.5 kg (10 lb)
  • Barn owls like to eat small mammals, small birds, insects, amphibians, and reptiles
  • Some will eat a wide range of small vertebrates and invertebrates
  • North America has 19 different varieties.
  • Females are bigger and heavier than males.
  • They have thick long feathers that cover the neck area so that it makes their necks appear fat and short. The owl neck is actually skinner and longer than it appears. Owls can turn their necks to make their heads turn around 270 degrees (almost ¾ of a circle) without making their shoulders move.
  • They can’t turn their eyes in the sockets because they don’t actually have eyeballs. Due to their shape, which is tube-like, their eyes remain stationary.
  • Owls and some of their relatives are some of the only birds that have an upper eyelid that is larger than the lower eyelid. Their relatives, the nightjars, share the same trait and can include: nighthawks and whip-poor-wills.
  • Many cultures around the world have created folklore about the owls. It is believed that they are so popular because of their appearance. Their eyes and feathers below their beaks make them look more like people than other birds. They also have a sound or voice that is more human-like.
  • They have pupils that allow a lot of light to come in and they can see during the day. Because their pupils don’t close like ours they have to close their eyelids to block out extra light. They give the appearance that they are half asleep, although they are actually quite awake.
  • Owls are carnivores and eat small rodents. Since they can’t digest bone, all of that material is transferred into a separate area called the ‘gizzard’. Once per day the owl regurgitates all excess materials in a clear round mass called a ‘pellet’.

What do owls eat?

Owls are called “Birds of prey” so this means that they kill other animals in order to get food and survive. They are considered to be predators and carnivores which means that they eat different types of prey.

Most eat things such as insects, earthworms, crabs, fish, reptiles, snails, birds, amphibians, and other small animals. The basic rule of thumb about an owl is that they eat meat. Their diet is diverse and they learn to adapt to their surroundings and eat whatever meat is available to them where they live.

Different species eat different things. Since there are over 216 species, this can depend greatly on what their diet is going to consist of. One example is the Screech Owl. The Screech owl mostly eats small insects. The barn owl mostly eats mice and rats that are found in the barn that they live in.

The larger ones will eat animals that are large such as rabbits and foxes. Some will even eat birds that are as big as a duck or a turkey. They are known to eat cats, falcons, raccoons, squirrels, eagles, shrews, voles, crayfish, beetles, moths, centipedes, scorpions, crickets, mosquitos, spiders, and more.

Each species of eats different types of fish and many of these things depend on where they live. If it lives close to the water, chances are that it will eat more fish and crabs that are available to them.

Here is a list of animals they eat:

  • Rodents
  • Hares
  • Rabbits
  • Voles
  • Shrews
  • Insects
  • Bats
  • Reptiles
  • Fish
  • Amphibians
  • Mice
  • Squirrels
  • Skunks
  • Worms
  • Insects
  • Spiders
  • Frogs
  • Lizards
  • Birds
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Deer
  • Other owls

What do owls eat at night?

Most are nocturnal, which means that they sleep during the day and they do most of their eating during the night. Even though this is not true for all, depending on where they live, it is true for most of them. During the nighttime hours, there are many rodents and insects that are nocturnal as well and they come out at night.

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Facts for Kids

Many of the nocturnal animals that they eat at night include mice, rats, voles, rabbits, squirrels, moths, skunks, frogs, toads, birds, bats, foxes, and more. They prepare themselves by knowing the territory that they live in and they can navigate throughout the area and catch their prey at night. Since they have such large eyes, they have better seeing conditions at night and they don’t have to turn their heads to see the prey that they are about to catch.

Do owls eat fruit?

They are found all over the world and are considered “birds of prey,” which means that they are always hunting for other animals to eat. Since they are predators and carnivores, it means that they eat small animals and insects to survive.

Owls do not eat fruit or plants. They are meat eaters and they eat by hunting and eating their prey which generally consists of small rodents, insects, reptiles, fish and more. Even though not all owls eat the same, depending on their size and location, it is a known fact that they do not fruits or vegetables.

Where do owls sleep?

They can be found all over the world and depending on where they live will depend on where they sleep. They sleep in trees and can be found perched on top of high branches. Others will sleep on top of buildings or inside places that are abandoned.

Since they are considered nocturnal, at least most of them, they are usually very light sleepers. Owls will perch with their body slouching and they will face forward. They sleep with their head turned up to 270 degrees without the blood supply being cut off from their brain.

They have three different eyelids and their eyelids close when they are sleeping. Most are considered nocturnal so that means they sleep during the day and they begin their hunting at nighttime.

What do owls drink?

Owls usually do not really “drink.” Most of the time, owls get water or liquid from the animals that they eat. Each gram of fat that the bird digests equals up to one gram of water that they will get.

When an owl is taking a bath, there is a chance that the owl will drink some of the water that they are bathing in. This means that they will take the extra water that they have and store it in their bodies for different times, just like they do food.

Do owls eat snakes?

Owls are hunters and they will eat almost anything that is alive that they can hunt, even snakes. The size of the snake that different owl species eat will depend on how big the owl is.

The Great Horned Owl, for example, will eat any snake that it is able to overpower. They also eat other reptiles as long as they are small to medium-sized animals that it can kill.

The Eastern Screech Owl is another owl that eats snakes. It eats snakes that are found in the woods or in forests. The most common snake that the Eastern Screech eats is the eastern hognose snake and the Rat snake.

The Barred Owl will eat a rat snake and a garter snake while the Burrowing Owl is known to small snakes that are on the ground.

Other snakes that they eat include blind snakes, ground snakes, earth snakes, and brown snakes. Owls will eat snakes depending on their size and where they live.

What do owls eat in the winter?

They have a harder time finding food in the winter months, especially since they are nocturnal, which means they sleep in the day. Sometimes, in the winter months, many prey will sleep during the night since it is so cold out, even some of those that are usually nocturnal as well.

Since they have great hearing and seeing and can turn their heads almost all the way around, they have the ability to hear and see their prey at all different angles. An owl can hear a rodent moving even if they are below the surface of the snow.

They are able to turn their direction quickly, they can silently find their prey and attack it suddenly. In the winter months, most owls will feed on squirrels, birds, and other prey that are prone to go to bird feeders.

During the winter, they are still able to find food such as hares, birds, ducks, skunks, rabbits, possums, rats, and mice, to name a few.

They dig tunnels and move through the snow if they need to in order to find food and they can adapt to their surroundings and eat less when there is less food and still survive.

What do owls feed their babies?

They have a large range of food that they eat. Some eat small food and others eat larger food. Many live on insects such as moths or worms.

Baby owls can eat just about anything that is given to them, as long as the prey is torn into pieces. Even small owls are known to eat a large number of animals and it is thought that they will eat up to 20% of their body weight.

Baby owls cannot chew their food and they have to swallow it. But, they cannot swallow the prey whole and it has to be pulled apart for them to eat it. They have to be fed small pieces of meat in order to survive.

The oldest baby owl is in charge of the younger babies. The parent will not feed the youngest until the older baby has eaten.

Some baby owls will eat smaller insects to survive on because they are easier for them to swallow whole and while others will be fed rodents or other meats to eat.

Depending on where the baby owl is born will depend a lot on what they eat. Some of them will eat mice, while others have rabbits or grasshoppers. Some young owls that are able to begin hunting on their own will catch beetles that are easy to catch. They are also known to eat frogs, bugs, and worms from gardens or other areas.

How do owls get their food?

They are considered “birds of prey” and so they hunt other animals, as their food. They get their food by catching their prey in their sharp talons, or claws. The owl will then kill their prey by biting their neck if it is still alive after being caught.

Since they have such good eyesight and hearing, they are able to hear and feel the direction hat their prey is going, even in the dark. When an owl flies, their flying is silent and the sound of their wings is muffled because they fly on the surface of the air. This allows them to be quiet and stealth when they are hunting.

Most will hunt from their perch or from a low tree or a post. They wait for the prey to come and they swoop down and they will drop down on the prey keeping its head in line until the last minute when the owl will pull its head back and use a wide spread of its talons to catch the prey, sometimes, even in the air, such as other birds.

Owls that hunt food in the water will skim over or perch close to the surface of the water and when they see a fish, they will swoop down and grab it with its talons. Owls can even skim on the surface of water and use this to their advantage so that they can catch snakes, fish, or even frogs with this technique.

Once the prey is caught, they eat the prey almost immediately doing what is called “mantling,” or hiding the prey from other predators. Some take extra food to their home and hide it until they are ready to eat again.

The owl will then take its food to where it lives and it will eat the prey quickly. Since they vary in size and location, they will adjust their diet according to what food is available to them at the time. This means that if there is a lack of food, the owl will learn to eat less and wait until the food shortage picks up and then it will eat

What do owls eat in the wild?

There are large owls and there are small owls but one fact about them is that they are meat-eaters. They are considered “birds of prey” which means that they eat other animals. They are considered to be both carnivores and predators and so they will find animals in the wild that they can eat.

They are very diverse animals and they have learned to adapt to the area that they live in. If they live close to the water, chances are that these owls will eat things such as crabs, fish, frogs, crawdads, and more. The ones that live on the land will adapt to their habitat and find animals scurrying around that they can eat.

Some owls are small and eat smaller bugs and insects such as worms, moths, mosquitos, and spiders while other larger ones eat things such as dogs, cats, deer, birds, lizards, frogs, toads, other birds, skunks, rabbits, rats, mice, squirrels, bats, amphibians, fish, hares, voles and other rodents running around the area.

They hunt and kill their food, with 216 different species of owls that have varying diets depending on their size and depending on the area that they live in. Since they are nocturnal, meaning they sleep during the day, they eat other animals that are scurrying around during the night.

They are strong birds and they are able to eat animals that are larger than they are. Since they swallow their food whole, their stomach digests the parts of the animal that they need to give them nutrients and vitamins. Then, the owl will cough out the parts of the animal that are not useful to their body such as the claw, feathers, and teeth into small balls. These small balls are called pellets and they are stored in a different part of the owl’s stomach where they will be digested at a later time.

Why do owls bob their heads?

They bob their heads from side to side and then forward and back, sometimes even turning their whole faces upside down. They do this because their eyes are in a fixed position and they cannot move their eyes the way that people’s eyes move. So, in order for an owl to be able to look up and down or side to side, the owl has to move its complete head. The great thing about this is that their necks can move up to 270 degrees without hurting them.

They move their head in different directions so that they can see things around them, most of the time having to do with their prey. The way that they bobs its head helps them to understand the distance around them and helps them to be able to judge the position of other things.

Why do owls come out during the day?

Most are nocturnal which means that they sleep during the day and only come out at night, but there are some that are active both during the night and the day.

Some will hunt prey that is only awake during the daytime hours when the sun is up and they will do their hunting then. Here are a few species of owls that are active during the day:

  • Barred Owl
  • Snowy Owl
  • Burrowing Owl
  • Great Horned Owl
  • Barn Owl

When an they comes out during both the night and day it means that they are crepuscular and they can come out a few hours before the sunsets or when the weather is dreary. Owls that are out during the day will normally fly over the fields and look for active rodents or other animals that they can eat.

What do owls do in the winter?

During the winter, they have to survive just as they do during the other months. Sometimes, they sit on top of trees or will fly across fields looking for food.
Owls that are in areas where there is snow will often times scan the snow by turning their heads in all directions so that they can see if any prey is running about.

Owls are great at hunting and catching food and so they are able to survive even the coldest of weather. Some owls will walk on the snow and will dig and pry the snow so that they can catch prey that is under the snow. Since they are able to turn their head in all directions and have amazing hearing and seeing, the owls are able to go different directions and catch prey as they scurry through the snow.

An owl has ears that are so good that they can hear a mouse move up to two feet under the surface of the snow. They can then adjust their flight and fly to the prey and change direction midflight and switch directions in just a second to go on the course of the prey.
An owls feathers are small and they are considered silent birds because they make no sound when they fly. This helps particularly in the winter when the food sources are harder to come by.

What do owls do with their prey?

Most of them have special adaptions that help them to be able to catch their prey easily such as their keen eyesight, their soundless flying, and the fact that they can hear and move their head in all directions.

As an owl flies, they are able to sneak up on their prey because their flight is silent. This allows them to surprise and catch their prey easily. Most owls will perch or sit on the ground so that they can catch their prey quickly and quietly. Some will fly and glide over the area and drop in on their prey where they will open their wings only at the last minute.

Some species scan the ground and when they find it, they will fly towards it and thrust their talons down onto the prey. The force will usually enough to stun the prey and then the owl will snap it with its beak.

They adapt depending on where they live. If they live close to the water, they will hunt in the water or fly down to the surface of the water to catch fish and crabs, or other animals.
Once it catches its prey, it normally carries it with its bill to a place to eat it. Owls will do what is called “mantling” which means they hide their catch from other predators while they eat it.

They even catch extra food in order to store it until they are ready to eat. This is helpful when it is cold and wintertime and food are scarce.

Why do owls need sharp talons?

Owls have feet that have four toes and these feet are called talons. The talons are used for hunting, perching, clutching their prey and for flying. One of the toes point backward while the other ones face forward.

The talons are very powerful and they can capture prey. Their bones are very strong and this helps to protect them from hurting themselves when they fly down and snatch their prey up.
When an owl is attacking its prey, the talons will spread out so that they can successfully catch the prey. The length of the talons depends on what species of owl that it is, but all of them have claws that are very sharp.

The bottom of the foot is covered in a knobby surface that helps the owl to not miss the prey or to not lose it when it is flying.

Owls have a locking mechanism on their foot that keeps their talons locked around the prey so that they do not lose it when they pick up their prey to take it back to their nest.

What do owls hoot for?

They hoot for many reasons such as when they are protecting their territory from other owls and when they are trying to attract a mate. Many times they will hoot at night and this has to do with the fact that most are nocturnal which means that they sleep during the daytime.

They usually are ready to hunt at night and they have strong senses during this time and that means that they will be ready to make more noise than they would in the day.
There are different types of noises that owls make such as territorial hoots. When an owl is protecting his territory, he will hoot to send out a message that he is at his home and he is ready to protect it.

They do not make their own nests, they find nests that are already there and they will make it their new home. Once this happens, they will hoot to make sure that everyone around knows that this is their new home and for them to stay away, especially other male owls. These territorial hoots also will sometimes attract the female owl and will start their courtship.

Another type of hoot is the defense call. Some owls, though not many, will hoot when they are facing another predator. They will attack with a screech and they will fight their predator so that they can protect their home or their nest. This usually only happens when a small owl is found nesting close to a large owl.

If it feels threatened, it might make a hooting sound. Their sound sometimes even sounds like a growling sound and the noise comes more from their throat than it does from their beak. This hooting is usually followed by a clicking sound of the beak.

The courtship hoot is a noise they make when they are trying to attract a female. The female owl has a higher-pitched hoot than the male owl which is lower and smoother than the female. This mating or courtship hoot will sometimes sound like screeching and is similar to the sound of a woman that is screaming. This can go back and forth between the female and male owls.

What are juvenile owls called?

A juvenile owl is still called an owlet, it just has different features of a younger owlet. A juvenile owlet will have the same type of appearance as an adult owl and will be fully-feathered and have no down on its body.

Most of the juvenile owlets will have feathers that still look like down but they aren’t down feathers, just their feathers haven’t received the full colors yet. Their eyes will be pale and their toes will have some feathers on them.

The difference between a baby owlet and a juvenile owlet is where you will find them. Most baby owlets will not leave from the nest or if they do, they will not go very far. A juvenile owlet will leave the nest and will fly around because at this point, they are able to fly and are developed enough to be mature like an adult owl.

What are baby owls called?

A young baby owl is called an owlet and this owl is an owl that has not fully matured yet and still has not developed their full feathers. The owlet does not leave its nest for very long and cannot care completely for itself yet.

The owlet is different than the adult owl because they are soft and fluffy and have feathers that are made of plumage. They are smaller and their eye color and the color of their bill is different than older owls.

Some owlets have fluffy numbs or ear tufts that are of odd colors that are used to show that the owlet is still immature. Their bodies are covered in soft down which is the biggest giveaway that the owlet is still very young.

Owlets are not able to fly but can leave the nest on their legs and walk on branches or on the ground. They can also do what is called “branching” which is when they climb or jump so that their legs can get stronger.

Most owlets stay close to their siblings but the parents are very protective of the owlets and will attack anything that seems like it might be a threat to the babies.