Owls are fierce predators and unique in the bird world for several reasons.
1. The first and most obvious adaptation is that they are nocturnal, although this isn’t always true. Most owls are active in catching and eating prey at night but many are still awake during the day. Some owls, like the Northern Pygmy Owl and the Burrowing Owl, are primarily active during the day.
2. They have fringed flight feathers that muffle sound and allow them to fly almost silently. This helps them sneak up and surprise prey. This adaptation is complemented by their strong talons, which help them hold on to large prey.
3. Another well-known adaptation is their flexible head; owls can turn their heads up to 270° to track their prey by sight and sound.
4. Finally, owls are similar to other predators in that their eyes are placed at the front of their head (as opposed to the sides like most songbirds and prey animals); this adaptation improves their depth perception, helping them track and catch prey. Prey animals have eyes on the sides of their heads because that increases their field of vision, allowing them to see predators and other threats.
What other owl adaptations can you think of?
Owl Research Institute
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