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owl

Why Do Owls Bob Their Heads?

If you were to stand face to face with an owl, it would eventually move its head, bobbing rhythmically from side to side, then forward, then back. Or almost completely upside down. This head-bobbing action helps make up for an anatomical limitation: an owl’s eyes are fixed in position — they can... read more »

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Blind Snakes and Screech-Owls

During the breeding season, when Eastern Screech-Owls capture the worm-like reptiles known as blind snakes, they deliver them to their chicks alive and wriggling. Some are gulped down immediately, but others escape by burrowing beneath the nest. The surviving “snakes” feed on the insect larvae... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Blakiston's Fish-Owl

The Blakiston's Fish-Owl is the largest owl in the world. Compared with North America’s largest familiar owl, the Great Horned, the Blakiston's is six inches taller and nearly three times as heavy. No other owl approaches its prodigious girth. But the Blakiston's Fish-Owl is endangered. It's... read more »

Burrowing Owls Hiss Like a Rattlesnake!

Despite its name, the Burrowing Owl doesn’t do much digging. It’s better known for its hair-raising hiss, which may have evolved to mimic the warning of a cornered rattlesnake. The sonic threat of a venomous reptile could be just enough to warn away most unwanted visitors from the owl’s nest... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting, science, sound

Northern Saw-whet Owls - Common but Unknown

Northern Saw-whet Owls reveal we have much to learn about the world of birds. Author and naturalist Scott Weidensaul shares his insight: “Here’s a species that up until the early to mid-1990’s was considered to be rare in most of its range . . . It turns out this is one of the most common forest... read more »

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Northern Forest Owls - Coming South this Winter?

Of all the surprises that winter might bring, among the most wonderful would be a grand influx of northern forest owls like this Boreal Owl. Every few years, a surprising number of owls move south from the boreal forest of Canada and Alaska into the northern tier of the United States, especially... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

Emily Hears Great Horned Owls Call

I’m Emily, a fourth-grader at School in the Woods in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I love the Great Horned Owl’s call. Did you know that Great Horned Owls almost always hunt at night? First, they locate their prey from small movements on the ground. Next, they dive down at the perfect moment.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight

Voices and Vocabularies - Great Horned Owls

Great Horned Owls have a lot to say! When a pair of Great Horned Owls calls in a duet, the female usually hoots first, and the male replies at a lower pitch. Great Horned Owls may also pierce the darkness with an eerie shriek, which may signal a hungry owlet begging for food or a female defending... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  sound

Denver Holt - On Owls and Field Biology

Denver Holt has spent more than 30 years studying the birds in the field. No wonder he can sound so much like this Boreal Owl! Holt conducts field research on eight species of owls in Alaska and Montana. He says, "I think winter is a blast! We all love trapping and banding in the wintertime. It's... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion, ornithology

Shakespeare's Crows, Owls, and Ravens - With Rod Molzahn

Shakespeare's tragedies and histories are filled with crows, owls, and ravens, birds of evil portent, promising sickness and death. Shakespearean actor Rod Molzahn describes some of them! King Henry speaks to Gloucester: "The Owl shriek'd at thy birth - an evil sign; the Night-Crow cried, aboding... read more »

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