Wednesday 28th June 2017
Frequently Asked Questions About Owls

How long do Owls live for in captivity?

    It depends on the type of owl you pick. For example: a Tengmalm's Owl has been known to live up to 9 years old (however the average longevity would be much less at around 5-6 years), a Barn Owl can live for 25 years plus, whereas a European Eagle Owl can live for 50 years plus.
Where are the Owl ears sited?
    Owls ears are not visible externally... Their ear openings are situated behind their great big eyes on the edge of the facial disk. Some Owls have "ear tufts" on the top of their heads; were in fact, these have nothing to do with the Owls hearing at all - they are simply "display feathers". The Owl's hearing is much more acute than a humans and they can hear their prey moving on the ground amongst leaves, undergrowth and even under several inches of snow. Also, in some Owls, in particular species that are almost strictly nocturnal, such as the Barn Owl (Tyto alba); they have ears were one is higher up the facial disk than the other ear. This is called "asymmetrically set ear openings", which act like a "radar dish" which guides sounds into the ear openings.
Do you need a licence to keep Owls in the United Kingdom?
    No you do not require a licence to keep an Owl in the UK, however European species require what is known as an Article 10. Even though a licence is not required, they are not something you can just read up about in a book then purchase one; please seek out knowledgable/professional/experienced Owl keepers or Bird of Prey Centres to gain practical experience for some time before even thinking of getting an Owl.
How is it that Owls can fly almost slightly?
    It is widely known that Owls can fly to almost complete silence - here's how it is possible: Owls have serrated wing feathers, much like an extremely thin comb, which allows Owls to obtain their near-silent flight as this 'design' distributes air that is rushing over the wings into small vortices, which as a result, reduces turbulence.
Can Owls turn their heads a full 360 degrees?
    No, Owls cannot turn their heads a full 360°, it is simply a myth. They can, however turn their heads 270°. The reason they can turn their heads this far is because an Owls neck contains 14 vertebrae, whereas other birds only contain 7. It has also been discovered that Owls have air-cushioned vessel casings & alternative blood vessel routing which prevent rupture & stroke during such movement.
Can Owls move their eyes?
    No, Owls cannot move their eyes, which is the reason they can move their heads 270°. See above Q&A for further info.
Are all Owls nocturnal?
    Not all Owls are nocturnal. Different species of Owls have different colours of eyes, which generally speaking tells us when they are most 'active'. Some have black eyes which means they are nocturnal (night time), others have orange eyes which means they are crepuscular (dusk/dawn or daytime) and some other Owls have yellow eyes which means they are diurnal (during daytime). Owls ability to hunt is not 'put down' to their eyesight alone. In fact, Owls hunt primarily with the use of their asymmetrical ears.
What is the largest species of Owl in the World?
    The largest species of Owl in the World is the Eurasian (or European) Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo)
What is the smallest species of Owl in the World?
    The smallest of the Owl species is known as the Elf Owl (Micrathene whitneyi)
What does Owls eat?
    Owls eat a variety of different prey. It mostly depends on the size of the Owl to what prey it generally eats. For example, a Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) will eat mice & other small rodents to small birds, whereas the European Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo) will eat mice, rats, rabbit & hares, however prey can be killed up to the size of fully-grown foxes (and alike mammals).
What is a group of Owls called?
    The 'term' for a group of Owls is known as a Parliament.
What is a baby Owl called?
    A baby Owl is normally called an Owlet.
How many species of Owl's are there in the World?
    There is not an exact number which can be provided, as Owls are still being discovered, but there are around 220 species of Owls in the World, but this number does not take into account the number of 'unclassified' sub-species.
What species/genus of Owls are there the most of in the World?
    That would be the genus Otus, with a total of 46 different species of Scops Owl. To name a few, there are the Collared Scops Owl (Otus lettia), Indian Scops Owl (Otus bakkamoena), Common Scops Owl (Otus scops), Oriental Scops Owl (Otus sunia) and Madagascar Scops Owl (Otus rutilus).
I found an Owl on the ground; what should I do?
    If you have found a baby or injured Owl, please contact either your nearest Owl or Raptor Rescue or your Wildlife Rescue Centre. Please be aware that a common instinct in any wild animal is to fear man, therefore if any Owl allows for you to safely pick them up, it may well be because they are very ill or close to dying. To find out more about what to do with an Owl that you have found on the ground, please visit the IOS Owl & Bird of Prey Rescue Coordinator, Chrissie's Owls website by clicking here .
What is an Owl pellet?
    An Owl pellet is the left over fur, feathers, bones & teeth of the prey that they ate the day/night before. The reason an Owl produces ('casts') a pellet is due to the fact that an Owls stomach 'juices' cannot dissolve the fur, feather, bones or teeth. So if you were to dissect an Owl pellet of an Owl, for example, that ate a mouse the night before, you would be able to reassemble the skeletal 'make-up' of the mouse.
How many eyelids do Owls have?
    Owls have 3 eyelids. They have the 'normal' uppper (closing when the Owl blinks) and lower (closing when the Owl is asleep) eyelids, but they also have a 3rd eyelid which is called a nictitating membrane. This is a layer of tissue that closes diagonally, from the inside to the outside, of the eye. This '3rd eyelid' cleans and protects the surface of the Owls eye.