All About Owls
The silent and unseen killer. A hidden treasure. An owl is a bird designed to be unseen. These birds produce pellets after swallowing their prey whole. With soft feathers made up of fur-like substance these birds make absolutely no sound while in flight, making them a mouse’s worst nightmare. Thrilling hoots echoing through the forest hardly make it any easier for us to find them. See those special feathers around that face? Those are made to guide sound into their ears for good hearing. In fact, their hearing is so good that they can make a 3D picture out of the sounds they hear, pin-pointing the subject. Not to mention, their premium eyesight. With eyes that are immobile in the sockets, owls were created with binocular vision and the ability to rotate their head 180 degrees. There is no doubt that this sneaky raptor is a hidden king of the forest.
How to find an Owl
With great camouflage and challenging environment for a home, these birds are NOT an easy bird to find even for an expert bird watcher. However, many people come across these birds with no intention to. Most owls are nocturnal. Some will hunt during day. You may have seen an owl fly across the road at night or had heard them hooting, but finding an owl that you’ve been looking for and watching it for awhile is a whole different experience. Especially for a bird nerd like myself. Owls may be nocturnal, but it is still very possible to find them during the day. Typically during dawn or dusk. If you want to find an owl the woods might be your best bet. That’s depending on what kind of owl you’re looking for though. For now let’s focus on the owls that are normally in the forest. Such as a Barred Owl, or Great Horned. Bring some binoculars if you have them. These birds are very well camouflaged! While walking in the forest it’s likely that an owl spotted you and perched very still so you wouldn’t see it. Always keep an eye out for signs that an owl was in the area, like pellets, feathers, etc. Finding owl pellets under a tree can be a big hint. Owls eject around two pellets per day. if there’s quite a few pellets under one tree, that means the owl has likely been roosting there for a few days. Scan the trees. Before you go looking for owls, do some research to see what kind of owls you have around you. Remember, when you do find an owl, keep your distance and avoid frightening them. Moving more slowly will show the owl that you’re not a threat. I hope you find this helpful & good luck out there!
- Observe the trees around you
- Wake up early and/or get out late
- Look for owl signs such as pellets
- Search search search
The Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl, Long Beach WA, October 2018
The Great Horned Owl is a very famous bird. Feeding on mice, rabbits, chickens and sometimes even house cats. Talons with the crushing force of around 25 pounds of pressure makes this bird tough to beat. That unbeatable strength is used to crush the skull of the unfortunate prey. Although they’re said to be everywhere in America, this owl stays very well hidden. Great Horned Owls nest around February and have owlets. You may find them nesting in deep dark forests, or maybe right in your backyard. Camouflage is key to staying hidden for this precious treasure. They’re also nocturnal which doesn’t make it any easier for the bird watchers! If you’re lucky enough you might hear their hoots and be able to track them down.
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl, Yacolt WA, April 2018
The Northern Saw-whet Owl is a common owl in North America and only about the size of a Robin. It’s not uncommon to hear their toot-toot songs during fall and through winter. Saw-whet Owls like to perch about eye-level in small Red Cedar trees in a nice spaced out forest while they roost during day. Due to the small size, this owl feasts on smaller prey such as mice and insects during the dark hours. Putting a big enough bird house out can be very helpful for this beautiful animals, as they nest in cavities. If you encounter this bird during it’s roosting hours do not scare it. Sometimes they will freeze in they’re spot with the eyes wide open. At this time, you should avoid approaching the owl. Always keep a respectful distance. This way the owl will feel safe and won’t leave the area. Sure is cute though! Right?!
Eastern Screech-owl, Nebraska bird center, August 2018
Eastern screech owls are birds of eastern North America. These small forest-dwelling raptors feed on mice, insects, and maybe even small birds.
This page is not fully developed. More species will be added soon. Estimated page update – November 5, 2018