Looking for some interesting facts about owls for kids? Owls are fascinating birds and often associated with wisdom, myths and folklore. However, is it about an owl that makes this bird so interesting? Perhaps it has something to do with the misconception people have about owls – they can turn their heads all the way round. This is not true. Owls can rotate their heads to 270 degrees in either direction and this creates an illusion that they can turn their heads all around. Read on for some interesting facts about owls, that will help you appreciate them.
Types of Owls
There about 225 species of owls across the world. There are 19 species of owls in North America. All species belong either to the Strigidae family or Tytonidae family classification. Some of the common owl species that you may be aware of include barn owl, snowy owls, elf owls and great horned owls.
The Strigidae owl family has the majority of owl species. These owls are considered true owls with their heavy camouflage, large heads and distinctive oval facial structure. On the other hand, Tytonidae owls, also known as barn owls, have heart-shaped facial structure and counter-shaded plumage. Even their body shape is a slightly more tapered as well as slender compared to true owls.
Photo credit: Chris Paul
In all owl species, females are larger and heavier compared to males. The smallest owl in the world is the elf owl, which is a mere 1.5 Oz in weight and just 5 to 6 inches tall. The great horned owl weighs 3.5 to 4 pounds and its two eyes together weigh nearly an ounce – 25.7g to be precise. On the other hand, the snowy owl weighs about 4 pounds.
The largest owl is the great gray owl, which is 28 inches in length, but weighs just 2 to 3 pounds. Further below there is a list of fun facts about owls for kids
Where do Owls Live?
Owls are rather widespread and you can find different species across the world. However, there are no owls living in Antarctica.
Owls are found in a wide range of habitats, but most species prefer forests and woodlands. This said, you can easily find owls in the tundra region, grasslands, deserts, marshes as well as bogs. Some owl species live in urban and suburban areas as well and these have adapted to their habitat quite well to flourish in these areas.
Photo Credit: Trish Hartmann
What Do Owls, Like to Eat?
Owls, including barn owl, snowy owls, elf owls and great horned owls, are completely carnivorous and they are not averse to scavenging if there is a shortage of food. They hunt for other animals, such as rodents, insects, larger mammals and fish.
The great horned owl also is a cannibal. It eats other smaller species of owls, namely the barred owl. And, the barred owl, in turn, eats other owls that are smaller in size.
After an owl eats, it regurgitates anything that it has not digested and what cannot pass through its digestive tract. This regurgitated material is called pellet and consists of fur and bones.
Migration to Warmer Locales
Some owls tend to migrate. These include saw whet owl and long-eared owl. Some snowy owls also migrate from the Arctic, but most head out south when their favorite food – lemmings – reduce in number. However, the great horned owl and barred owl do not migrate.
Photo Credit: Mark A Coleman
Fun Facts about Owls for kids
- Most owls don’t make nests. The elf owl nests in holes in large cacti made by woodpeckers, while other species nest in cavities in trees or old nests of hawks, ravens and crows.
- Many species of owls have asymmetrical ears – they are of different sizes and at varying heights. As a result, owls have superior hearing and can locate their prey without even seeing it.
- All owls have three eyelids – one for blinking, one for closing the eyes while sleeping and one for keeping the eyes clean.
- A barn owl is capable of eating up to 1000 mice a year and this is the reason farmers try to attract barn owls to fields to keep the mice population down.
- The ear tufts that some species of owls have are not ears. They are feathers that help the owl camouflage or show its aggression.
- The characteristic flattened disk-shaped face of the owl is an adaptation. It helps to channel sounds to the owl’s ears and magnifies it, letting the owl, hear sounds and noises that human ear cannot detect.
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