About Dan Frankian

about dan frankian

Dan Frankian is an accomplished falconer, using his skills to provide a natural alternative to chemical and product driven Bird, Animal, and Pest Control in the Toronto and Golden Horseshoe Area... Read more »

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  • Owls hold a special place in many cultures around the world, becoming part of mythology and folklore.
  • Owls are unique in the animal kingdom, and very distinctive within the raptors species.
  • Owls can rotate their heads up to 270 degrees making it seem almost supernatural.
  • Owls are known for their haunting calls: the eerie screech of a barn owl, or the “Hoot” of a Eurasian eagle owl or great horned owl.

snowy owl sitting on tree branch

Owls are beautiful, majestic, fierce, even inspiring awe, and have long captivated our attention. Owls have become part of the folklore and mythology of numerous cultures around the world and throughout time. Their unique behaviours and distinctive features elicit awe, wonder and curiosity. Through the ages, owls have had a special place in many cultures, often seen as symbols of knowledge, wisdom, and sagacity. At the same time, owls have held a place of representing death, misfortune, or suspicion, but also of respect. Some Native American tribes have incorporated owls into their spiritual beliefs, seeing them as messengers from spirit or guardians.  This contrast in symbolism only adds to the mystic allure of the majestic owl.

What makes Owls so Special?

Owls possess many unique characteristics such as the ability to turn their heads up to 270 degrees of rotation. This makes them look like they can turn their heads all the way around. They can move theirs heads so quickly it appears almost supernatural. Owls also have exceptional night vision which makes them mighty hunters at night. This fierce predator can see its prey in almost complete darkness. Their hearing is exceptional, due to the placement of the feathers around their ears and face, which acts as a funnel to enhance the sound of their prey.

Owls have soft, fringed feathers that make them capable of silent flight. Their primary feathers break down air turbulence into smaller currents and the secondary feathers are soft and fringed to reduce the noise. They also have down which absorbs any wind noise even further. The feathers are so soft and light that there is very little friction with air and therefore no sound. Studies have been done to elicit the sound of an owl in flight. There is so little sound that it doesn’t register on any equipment used. This silent flight makes them formidable predators and also contributes to the allure and enigmatic aura that surrounds this species of raptor.

There are over 200 different types of owl in the world. The smallest owl is the elf owl weighing in at 35 to 55 grams and is 12 to 14 cm long. It lives in the deserts of the US and Mexico.  Blakiston’s fish owl is the largest owl in the world with males around 3.5 kg and females up to 4.6 kg. Female raptors are typically 20 to 30 % larger than males. Blakiston’s are a subspecies of eagle owl and are found in China, Japan and eastern Russia.

What do Owls hunt?

Most species of owls are nocturnal, hunting from dusk to dawn. This gives them a different set of prey than what is typically found in daylight hours, so there is less competition for prey at night. Small owls will, of course, hunt small prey such as insects, scorpion, or small birds. Larger owl will hunt larger prey taking down rats, mice, rabbit, fish, birds, and even other raptors. A snowy owl once took a falcon off the hand of a falconer in Canada during a snow storm.

Where and When can You hear Owls?

Owls hoot or screech to communicate with each other and to let others know they are in the area. Often, in the country, and sometimes in the city, you can hear owls hoot as soon as the sun starts to go down. Their haunting calls can be heard for quite a distance. When you hear one you will often hear several from different directions, just letting each other know they are there, either as a hello or a warning to keep their distance.

Owls are great parents, laying from one to four eggs at a time, usually two or three. They are diligent in caring for their young. The hatchlings are so tiny and awkward looking little piles of fluff with feet too big for their bodies. Owls typically nest once a year, although with a very good, stable food supply they may nest up to three times in a year. By the time the owlet is 10 weeks of age it is usually flying with the parents and learning to hunt.

There are many educational programs that feature raptors, and specifically owls. This helps raise awareness for the birds themselves, as well as for biodiversity and environmental conservation. Owls are considered an indicator species, meaning their presence and general health reflects the overall health of the ecosystem in the habitat in which they live.

Movies, such as the Harry Potter series, have brought a new generation of admirers to the owl world. Seeing a fully white snowy owl in full flight or the size and majesty of a Eurasian eagle owl landing on a branch with a wing span of almost 2 meters truly is awe inspiring. It is not surprising that owls have become symbols of wisdom, sagacity, majesty, respect, death, and spirit,  depending on culture and context. 

Are you intrigued yet? Would you like to learn more? Check out our in-depth look and freuqently asked questions about owls here »

Or, how about our Owl Experience in the cooler seasons?


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