Owl Facts



  • Owls are nocturnal and hunt by night, unlike most other hunting birds.
  • There are two big families of owl — barn owls and typical owls.
  • There are 135 species of typical owl, including the great horned owl.
  • There are about 10 species of barn owl. The common barn owl is the most widespread — found on every continent except Antarctica.
  • Small owls eat mostly insects. Bigger owls eat mice and shrews. Eagle owls can catch young deer.
  • In the country, the tawny owl’s diet is 90% small mammals, but many now live in towns where they eat mainly small birds such as sparrows and starlings.
  • Owls have huge eyes that allow them to see in almost pitch darkness.
  • An owl’s hearing is four times as sharp as a cat’s.
  • Owls can pinpoint sounds with astonishing accuracy from the slight difference in the sound levels it receives in each of its ears.
  • Most bird’s eyes look out to the sides, but an owl’s look straight forward like a human’s. This is probably why the owl has been a symbol of wisdom since ancient times.
  • The flight feathers on an owl’s wing muffle the sound of the bird’s wing beat so that it can swoop almost silently down on to its prey.
  • Most owls roost by day in holes inside tree trunks. There are few trees in the desert where the elf owl lives, so it roosts inside a giant saguaro cactus. Elf owls live in the dry regions of southwest North America.