Owls are nocturnal birds of prey who eat rodents, reptiles, amphibians, insects, small mammals, and other types of birds.
Owls can be found on every continent except Antarctica.
They tend to defer to open country with some trees or woodland nearby.
Owls have large forward-facing eyes which allow them to pinpoint their prey in the dark.
They also have a keen hearing to locate rodents and other prey scurrying around in the underbrush or hidden in tree cavities.
Owls are carnivorous creatures who use their beak, talons, and razor-sharp hooked beaks to kill.
Their vision is six times greater than that of a human, allowing them to see their prey in the dark.
Owls are not very picky eaters and will eat anything they can catch.
Some owls rely on insects as much as 70% of their diet.
Owl Eating Habits
The smallest owl species have an extremely varied diet that includes spiders, worms, snakes, and beetles.
Larger owl species have a more specialized diet which includes larger mammals such as skunks, weasels, and rabbits.
Owls will sometimes hunt during daylight hours, especially if their usual food sources are scarce or there is a drought.
In these cases, owls may switch their diet to include some mammals.
Some owls, like the Great Horned Owl, will eat carrion (dead animals).
These types of owls are attracted to dead animals left by other hunters or by predators such as mountain lions.
The Great Horned Owl will also target pet dogs and cats when they are out in the wild on their own.
Many species of owls will fly to a high perch and swoop down on their prey on the ground.
The Burrowing Owl, on the other hand, will flush out small animals from their burrows.
Owls swallow their food whole and regurgitate indigestible parts such as bones, teeth, fur, and feathers in the form of a compact pellet.
Scientists examine these pellets to determine what an owl has been eating.
Importance of Owls’ Diets
Owls play a vital role in controlling rodent populations and provide a natural form of pest control.
They also help to keep diseases such as rabies under control by feeding on sick rodents.
As well as rodent and small mammal control, owls also provide a great service by removing harmful insects such as locusts and beetles that threaten trees and plants.
Owls are not territorial creatures like other birds of prey such as hawks and eagles.
Their hunting grounds often overlap vastly, meaning that they are able to co-exist peacefully with little or no impact on each other’s hunting success.
Some owls form relationships with farmers who leave out food for them, in exchange for pest control.
This is especially beneficial during the winter months when their usual food sources are scarce.
Scientists discovered that owls are able to fly without making a single sound, due to the soft fringes on the leading edge of their primary feathers.
This is truly an incredible feat considering that owls actually have to flap their wings with great speed in order to stay airborne.
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