The owl is a magnificent bird of prey and it is often associated with wisdom and knowledge.
It is a nocturnal bird with forward facing eyes that give them better depth perception for night hunting.
There are over 200 species of owls. They have habitats all over the world except for Antarctica.
The smallest of the family is the “elf owl” and it weighs just over an ounce and measures in at 5 1/4 inches long.
With the largest species of owl being the “eagle owls”. They have a wing span of just over 6 feet.
Owls have many capabilities. However, building nests is not one of them. In fact the owls will often claim a nest that was left behind by hawks and crows and other birds and use it as their own.
The sound an owl makes is a “hooting” sound However, unlike other species of owls, the barn owls make a screeching sound rather than the typical hoot sound that is associated with other owls.
Feeding Habits Of The Owl
The diet of the owl consists mainly of rodents and insects. They are avid and highly skilled hunters.
Because their coloring allows them to blend into their surroundings, it makes it easier for them to surprise and capture their prey.
Owls are known to be far sighted and they are unable to see anything that is within a few inches of their face. However, they do have excellent far vision capabilities, which enables them to see at great distances even in low light, a definite advantage when they are hunting.
Flying high and gracefully and virtually silently, makes it difficult for its prey to flee from their captor.
The owl uses its powerful talons to crush the skull of its prey and knead its body. This makes it easier to digest it. Its curved beak can make short work of gripping and tearing apart its capture. Barn owls have been known to swallow their prey whole. They devour all parts of its catch, including the bones.
The owl can lay as many as 10 eggs at one time. The eggs are laid on different days, thus hatching on different days.
The eggs hatch about 3 to 5 weeks later in the order in which they were laid. This can often result in the first owlet that hatches being 2 or more weeks older than the last one to hatch.
The Spirit Animal
The owl is also seen as a spirit animal and it holds many different meanings for different cultures and religions. There is no shortage of the owl in folklore and mythology.
In the Navajo and Apache tribes owl sightings are taken very seriously. They are sometimes seen as a sign of death. It is believed that if the spirit owl speaks your name it is a sure sign that your life on earth will soon come to an end.
In Greek mythology, Athena was the goddess of war, handicraft and practical reason. It was said that an owl sat on her blind side so that she could see the whole truth. The owl was her sacred animal.
When soldiers saw an owl flying over the battlefield it was a sign that the goddess of war was smiling down upon them. This sign encouraged them to go forth into battle.
Egyptian mythology saw the owl as the creature guarding the souls of the dead. They would oversee the souls as they passed into the next level. They thought of them as being a guardian of sacred occult knowledge.
Chinese folklore suggest that the owl is a source of good luck and wisdom. Their figures and images are popular in Chinese culture and they are also depicted on ceramics from the Han Dynasty.
Regardless of the the spiritual meanings there is one fact that consistently runs through all of the cultures and that is the owl is thought to hold ultimate wisdom.
Owls and Society
Owls are a valuable part of society. They contribute generously to the eco system by controlling the insect and rodent populations.
This is especially important in reducing the rodent populations in fields and storage facilities, without them many farm crops would be spoiled.
Bird watchers are fascinated by this magnificent bird. Bird watchers spend a lot of money, time and energy on field equipment so they can monitor and observe their habits.
While they are a great benefit to us, we are the ones that are causing them harm.
Pesticides used in controlling the grasshopper populations and the toxic chemicals used in forestry are detrimental to their health and well being, this also affects much of our wildlife, not just the owl.
The industrial and agricultural revolution has been encroaching on their habitats in the name of progress. Thus causing a reduction in the population of many of the owl species.
However, having said that, in order for society to move forward sacrifices must be made. Unfortunately, many of the sacrifices we make in the name of progress, involve animals and their habitats.
Luckily, there are many devout owl lovers who care about them and try to protect them.
There are also millions of people fascinated by this magnificent bird. Collecting figurines, carvings and paintings so they will forever be memorialized.