The order Strigiformes consists of 2 families, the Owls and Barn-owls, divided in 26 genera covering 208 species. This is a distinctive, familiar group with a worldwide distribution. Owls are predators that actively feed and hunt nocturnal, throughout the night and during twilight hour. Their body is highly specialized for hunting at night. Their eyes are fixed in their sockets nd they have soft plumage for silent flight. Their hearing is excellent hearing, the ears are slighlty asymmetrical in their placement, which allows localization of the direction from which sounds are coming. They swallow prey as a whole and regurgitate "pellets" of skin and bones. Barn owls and "typical" owls are both fairly common worldwide, but many people rarely see them due to the nocturnal habits.
Owls figure largely in myths, folklore and superstition. Their large eyes, nocturnal nature and eerie calls have led to fear and loathing by many. Owls play an important role in the balance of forest and open land environments. Much like hawks, owls prey on rodent,reptile and small game populations at night. Owls feed on a variety of animal species from insects, small mammals and reptiles, to the occasional fish. Typically solitary feeders, owls may occasionally gather in winter roosts or at anabundant food source.
- Some specific Owl adaptions:
- Large Retinas - Vision is 50-100 times better than humans in poor light.
- Many Rods - High concentrations of rods (lightgathering cells).
- Binocular Vision - Fixed eyes view the same scene from slightly different angles – improving depth perception.
- Large Head with Wide Ear Spacing - Disk-like design receives sound at minute thresholds; large ear openings and asymmetric ear positions improve hearing.
- Feathers - Leading wing feathers have softserrated edges for noiseless flight.
- Regurgitation - Owls absorb nutritious foods through stomach walls but regurgitate pellets of indigestible hairs, feathers, bones, and claws.