Updated: Jan 26
November is Owl month here at Calgary Wildlife! This month we will be posting about all things OWL related for your awareness and learning pleasure, including divulging some awesome adaptations and common misconceptions.
Alberta is home to several owl species, they come in all shapes and sizes:
Small owls: Northern Saw-Whet owl, Burrowing owl, Boreal owl
Medium owls: Short-eared owl, Long-eared owl, Northern hawk owl
Large owls: Great Gray owl, Barred owl, Snowy owl, Great Horned owl
Fun Fact: The Great Horned Owl is Alberta's official bird
Stay tuned for more information about these majestic birds coming all this month.
Time for 5 fun facts about OWLS!
- Owls are (mostly) nocturnal predators and rely on stealth, excellent hearing,
and eyesight to catch their prey with their sharp talons
- Owls can’t move their eyes and instead move their heads to see different areas and angles
- Great Horned Owls can hear a mouse under 4 ft of snow!
- Owls can fly silently thanks to the outer edge of their wings being soft
- Owls cannot digest fur and bones and instead regurgitate them in pellets to
clear them from their system
Coming next week, we will be debunking some common OWL myths!
There is no doubt that owls are fascinating and beautiful birds, but for our last OWL month post, let's debunk some common OWL myths.
Are Owls are truly wise?
Are all Owls nocturnal?
Can Owls really turn their heads all the way around?
Read on to find out!
Myth: Owls are wise
Reality: Owls are often seen as wise due to their large eyes, resolute posture and relative silence. Owls are good at doing what they need to do to survive in the wild, but they are often stubborn when it comes to trying to train them to do things in captivity, such as with our education animals.
Myth: All owls are nocturnal
Reality: A large proportion of owls are nocturnal, meaning they are active at night, but not all are. A few owls are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day, and some others are crepuscular, meaning they are active at dawn and dusk. Active times do not mean that the owl sleeps the rest of the time; owls tend to be alert but take naps here and there when they are not active.
Myth: Owls can turn their heads all the way around
Reality: The answer can be yes or no, depending on the starting point of the head, so some clarification is required.
If the starting point of the head is facing straight forward, then no, they cannot turn their heads all the way around. If YOU start out facing forward and turn your head as far to the side as your head will go, most people can turn their heads about 90 degrees. An owl, however, can start out facing forward, turn its bill over its shoulder, keep going until its bill is over its spine, then keep going until the bill reaches the other shoulder...a whopping 270 degrees from the front!
Information courtesy of https://www.internationalowlcenter.org/
Ophelia, the great horned owl is our resident educational owl who came to Calgary Wildlife in 2007 with a broken wing. The fracture healed but there were complications. Ophelia inspires thousands of children and adults every year, helping to create awareness around wildlife issues.
Please consider sponsoring Ophelia by giving towards her and other permanent residents care!