Most people know that owls are nocturnal but not everyone knows that not all owls hoot, some whistle, others shriek or bark and others even growl or hiss if cornered. Owls look clever but certainly aren’t easy to train.
Owl hearing is outstanding and is probably the more important sense for hunting with some able to detect movement under 12 inches of snow!
The owls ears are set asymmetrically meaning that one is higher than the other which makes it a whole lot easier to pin point where the sound is coming from. Further to this is the owls dish shaped face that guides the sound to the ears. The shape of this dish can be changed at will by using its facial muscles.
An amazing feature is that the owl can detect the direction of the sound due to it reaching one ear before the other. The timing difference that it can detect is in the region of thirty millionths of a second !
The owl turns its head towards the sound until the sound is arriving at the same time to both ears and then it knows its facing the potential prey.
At this point it will fly towards it’s prey or the last sound it heard and if more sound it detected it will make in flight adjustments. About 20 inches from the prey it brings its feet forward and just prior to impact moves its talons in front of its face and closes its eyes for the impact.
Owls eyes are another fascinating aspect as they don’t have eye balls, their eyes are in the form of tubes that provide a greater sense of depth. The cost of not being able to move its eyes is made up for by being able to turn its head 270 degrees. This also ensures silence when hunting.
…and a conservative tip – the next time you have an owl mesmerized in your car headlights. Switch the lights off and immediately back on – it will be ample time for the owl to react and fly from the imminent destruction is was facing.
Thanks for your time