Five Little-Known Facts About Owls

With around 220 species of owls throughout the world, these big-eyed, fluffy birds are even more interesting than we think.

When people think about owls, the first thing that comes to mind is that they generally look wise, sometimes have comical expressions, and are overall extremely cute. But with around 220 species of owls throughout the world, these big-eyed, fluffy birds are even more interesting than we think.

Here are five fun and amazing facts about owls found in the new book Owls by Marianne Taylor, published by Cornell University Press.

1. Owl wings have built-in “silencers” in their wing feathers that allow them to fly through the air nearly undetected.

Photo by Matias Schäf from Owls by Marianne Taylor, © 2012 by Cornell University Press. / Via cornellpress.cornell.edu

2. Owls are skilled musicians. They commonly engage in duetting, or singing together, to solidify bonds between mating pairs.

Photo by José Carlos Motta-Junior from Owls by Marianne Taylor, © 2012 by Cornell University Press. / Via cornellpress.cornell.edu

3. Owls don’t just eat mice. In fact, some species prey on other smaller owls, and Snowy Owls have been known to prey on Peregrine Falcons.

Photo by Matti Suopājarvi from Owls by Marianne Taylor, © 2012 by Cornell University Press. / Via cornellpress.cornell.edu

4. You can tell an owl’s habits through its eyes. Research suggests that owl eye color is determined by their activity habits: most black and orange-eyed owls are nocturnal, while yellow-eyed owls can be both diurnal and nocturnal.

Photo by Ian Merrill from Owls by Marianne Taylor, © 2012 by Cornell University Press. / Via cornellpress.cornell.edu

5. Many cultures associate owls with evil or death. In Sicily, it is believed that the Common Scops Owl will sing for three days near the house of a person who is about to die.

Photo by Hugh Harrop from Owls by Marianne Taylor, © 2012 by Cornell University Press. / Via cornellpress.cornell.edu

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