Owls are mysterious night creatures that inspire curiosity and fear. Their unusual face structure and sharp eyes deter a lot of us from getting close to them. There are 200 species of Owls that have been identified, all with variations in their diet. However, the main factor is that they feed on animals.
What do Owls Eat?
Owls are birds of prey by nature so if they want to live, they have to kill other animals. As a result, they have a diverse diet, ranging from earthworms, spiders, reptiles, fish to small birds and amphibians.
They are adaptive and make do with whatever is locally available to them. Owls have preferred habitats, because of this their diet differs from one another. Some like the lowland greenery and others like woodlands. A common factor found in the diet of all owl species is their preference for rats and shrews.
Owls are pretty secretive about their eating and hunting habits. They certainly won’t engage in a feast in front of you. They tend to leave their leftovers in their roosting site or nest. Another way to get a look at what they eat is to examine their pellets. Pellets are parts of their food that they cough up because they are unable to digest it. Analyzing those pellets makes it easy to guess what they consume.
Owls are not prone to attacking humans. In most cases, they would not attack because they see you as food. Instead, it is because your presence threatened them.
What do Owls Drink?
Owls are capable of drinking water. However, they rarely need to. Instead, they get their fulfill their thirst by consuming animals. While metabolism is occurring in an Owl’s body, the hydrogen content in the fat of an animal is paired with oxygen. This results in water forming in their body. Owls that live in places where it snows a lot, are sometimes seen sipping on the snow.
How do Owls Hunt?
Owls do not hunt close to where they roost. Instead, they mark a territory for hunting with considerable distance.
Owls have certain evolutionary features that make them fierce predators. For example, their eyesight at night is something camera makers equipped with night vision envy. Among them, the Tawny Owl holds the crown for the sharpest eyesight among all owls.
The hearing abilities of an Owl are one of a kind. Despite having amazing eyesight at night, some Owls do not need to use it. They can rely on their hearing alone to hunt down their prey. However, those like the Barn Owl depend entirely on their auditory abilities to guide them.
Wings of Stealth
Even an Owl’s wings are meant to help them hunt. Their wings have a large surface area, especially compared to the weight of the rest of their bodies. This allows them to have a steady, quick flight. Their feathers have a soft texture. Therefore, instead of creating a loud flapping sound, the sound is muffled. The lack of sound from their wings also allows them to listen more closely to the surrounding noise of their prey.
Owls change the way they approach their prey after observing their activities. A small bird or insect flying in the air would be snatched up with no warning. Once an Owl locks eyes on a target, they make their journey towards it. Their head is kept at the same angle the prey happens to be. Then, their head retreats at the last second, two of their feet come forward, and two stay backward. Their talons are pushed wide. The sudden impact is enough to startle the most alert species. Then, a final blow is delivered with the beak.
Sometimes, Owls go after birds hiding in trees and bushes, scare them out of it, and then attacks. Owls that catch fish by flying over bodies of water, spot a fish, and then they swoop down. While some sit on the edges of the water and grab the fish that come close to it. Some Owls venture into the water for the snakes and the frogs. In open areas with tall trees, Owls perch on branches and they listen for mice scurrying by and attack them once they spot them.
How do Owls Eat?
Owls are not capable of chewing. Yet, they consume food that would generally require chewing. Instead, they make use of the sharpness and hook-like shape of their bill. Large prey are ripped apart, while they crush the bones and skulls and turn them into small pieces. Then, they swallow those smaller pieces.
For small prey, they just swallow them whole. Owls lack the sack for food storage in their throat, so the food is directly transferred to their digestive system.
While the world is busy marveling at the hunting abilities and mysterious charms of Owls we tend to overlook how they are facing a big decline in recent years. About one-third of the Owls that live in the United States have already disappeared. The leading cause of this is suspected to be pesticides, car accidents, and loss of habitat.
Six species of Owls are on the Yellow Watch List, while one has been subject to the Endangered Species Act. Actions are being taken to restore their habitat and protect them.
We need to do our best to protect Owls as well as other birds. While it is inevitable for large animals to prey on small animals, we need to make sure they all still exist. No good would come from disrupting their ecosystems. Just as Owls need to eat small birds, the smaller birds need to feed on insects.
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Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Owls
The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Owls are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.