If anyone does not know, then the owl is a miniature owl with a very attractive and pretty appearance. It is owls, most often, of all owls that become pets, because. They are small in size and easy to take care of. Let's try to understand the life of owls living in natural, wild conditions, describing their owl customs, habits, chosen places for living and characteristic external features.
Origin of the species and description
The owl is a feathered owl belonging to the owl family and order of owls. In Latin, the name of the bird sounds like “Athene”, which has a direct connection with the ancient Greek goddess of war, Pallas Athena, who personifies wisdom. Owls and snakes were considered her faithful and reliable companions, so they were often depicted along with her appearance in various sculptures and paintings.
The name “owl” has Russian roots, is associated with the Proto-Slavic language and is associated with hissing, whistling and onomatopoeia. There are legends and signs about owls, sometimes not as noble and majestic as in Ancient Greece. Our ancestors believed that a meeting with an owl portends misfortune and adversity that can be harmful, both directly (health) and indirectly (some person wishes evil).
An interesting fact: In appearance, the owl is quite serious and gloomy, his gaze is piercing and intent, it seems that the feathered mood has deteriorated, and he is frowning. It is quite possible that these features of the bird's face laid such unkind signs about these unusual winged predators. >
- little owl;
- brahmin owl;
- rabbit owl.
Previously, there were many more varieties of owls, but, unfortunately, they died out, some even several million years ago. Let us describe the characteristic features of species that have survived to our times. It is worth noting that there are various subspecies of these birds. The brahmin owl can be called the smallest, its body length is about 21 cm, and its weight is 120 grams. The main tone of the feathers is grayish brown with characteristic white patches.
On the abdomen, on the contrary, there is a basic white color with brownish-gray speckles. A white collar stands out on the neck. The exclamations of this feathered bird are quite loud and resemble a rattle. The brown owl is larger than the brahmin owl, its length reaches a quarter of a meter, and the bird weighs about 170 grams. The feather coloration of this species is light brown, sandy tones decorated with white feathers may prevail.
An interesting fact: This owl was called the brownie, because. he often takes a fancy to the attics of houses and sheds. The bird does not shy away from human settlements, so it is often tamed.
Rabbit owls are distinguished by a reddish-brown color, on which a gray tone is slightly visible, but large white streaks stand out well. The breast and the top of the abdomen are grayish-brown with a certain yellowness, the bottom near the belly is monophonic, yellow-white. The length of the body of a bird can reach up to 23 cm. These owls are unusual in that they are active not only at night, but also during the daytime. The rabbit owl is considered due to the fact that it often builds nests in the holes of rabbits.
Appearance and Features
If we compare owls with owls, then the former are much smaller, their length is about 30 cm, and the birds weigh no more than two hundred grams. The common owl reaches a mass of 700 grams and a length of 65 cm. The head of an owl is slightly flattened, while that of an owl is rounded. White specks predominate in the plumage of owls; stripes are clearly visible on the feathers of an owl, located both along and across. Unlike owls, owls do not have feather ears; in all other characteristics, these owls are very similar.
The head of an owl is quite impressive in size, but most of all, its huge and piercing eyes fixed in the eye sockets are striking. When looking to the side, the owl has to turn its head. The iris of the eyes can be colored in rich yellow, golden or slightly yellowish, depending on the type of bird. Large round pupils in such a bright frame stand out well against the brownish or grayish color of the feathers. Severity of the bird's gaze is given by supraorbital protrusions resembling human eyebrows, so often frowned people are asked the question: “What do you look like an owl?”.
Interesting fact: Many mistakenly believe that owls can turn their heads 360 degrees, this is not true, owls are able to look over their shoulders, turning their heads 135 degrees, but due to the flexible neck, the maximum rotation angle can reach 270 degrees.
The tail of the owl is short, folded wings also look short. The birds have a dense dense plumage, usually brown or sandy tones, which are diluted with chaotic whitish spots, so the owl seems pockmarked. The bird's abdomen is light with dark speckles. The claws of a feathered predator can be called its weapon, they are long and sharp and have a dark brown, almost black color.
The tone of the beak can be:
- yellowish (from light to saturated color);
- slightly greenish;
- yellow with a grayish touch.
It has been observed that the bird's mandible is often lighter than the mandible.
Where does the owl live?
Owl settlement area is very extensive . Birds occupied Asia, Europe, the northern part of the African continent, are found in the territories of the New World.
Feathered predators can be found in:
- mountainous areas;
- semi-desert and desert areas;
- in an open flat area;
- in the neighborhood of a person.
Brahmin owls have chosen South Asia, they give their preference to light forests and open areas with low shrubs. Often this owl is found in the territories of human settlements, settling near Calcutta and Delhi. The owl builds its nesting places most often in a hollow, but it can also settle in destroyed buildings, old abandoned buildings, in wall cavities. Often, owls occupy other people's nests that were abandoned by previous inhabitants (for example, Indian starlings).
Little owls occupy the expanses of Central and Southern Europe, the northern regions of the African continent and almost the entire Asian territory. They often live in open areas, inhabiting desert and semi-desert areas. For nesting, this owl chooses burrows, clusters of boulders, stumps with hollows and other secluded shelters. Owls have inhabited both North and South America, birds love open areas with low-growing plants. Owls nest in rabbit holes and shelters of other large rodents.
Now you know where the owl lives. Let's see what she eats.
What does the owl eat?
The owl, first of all, is a predator, therefore its diet consists of animal food, only it differs in different species and subspecies. It should be noted that the fingers on the bird's paws are located in pairs, and these pairs are directed in different directions (forward and backward), this allows you to firmly cling and hold prey. Birds do not have teeth, so they tear large victims into pieces, and immediately swallow small ones completely. Owl species differ not only in different dishes on the menu, but also in hunting tactics.
Owls hunt for large prey in pairs, acting together, because they may not be able to cope alone. Smaller snacks are taken one at a time. The brown owl likes to eat voles, bats, jerboas, hamsters. The bird will not refuse from all kinds of insects and earthworms. Patience while waiting for the victim this owl does not take, the attack occurs when the potential prey freezes and does not move. Hunting is carried out, both ground and air. The little owl is prudent and makes food reserves.
Interesting fact: Owls spend a lot of time in burrows hunting voles, so the plumage in the head and spine area often wears out, and only feather bases similar to hedgehog needles.
The passerine subspecies of the owl prefers small birds and rodents. He does not swallow his victims whole, but carefully plucks and chooses only the tastiest. This owl equips autumn stocks in hollows. The rough-legged owl monitors the situation from above, from ambush, eyeing a tasty snack that is swallowed whole. It also prefers rodents and small birds. The elf owl is classified as insectivorous, he loves to dine with grasshoppers, locusts, caterpillars, spiders, fly larvae, centipedes, scorpions.
Caught prey, he always eats in his shelter. The owl will not refuse a frog, a lizard, a toad, dung beetles. The latter are simply adored by owls, who have come up with a cunning trick to lure these insects. Birds drag manure into their burrows, which attracts victims crawling into the den of feathered predators.
Character and lifestyle features
Owls can be safely called sedentary birds, leading an active night life. Sometimes they can migrate for a short distance, but, basically, they live permanently in the same place. Their eyesight and hearing are simply excellent, so night hunting is a success. Caution and silence are inherent in birds, so potential victims are often unaware that they will soon become a snack for winged predators.
Interesting fact: Rabbit owls are also active during the day, while all other owl relatives hunt at night and before dawn.
During the day, almost all owls spend in their shelters, resting after night outings. These birds equip their lairs in various places.
Owls use for their dwellings:
- attic building rooms;
- abandoned buildings;
- various antiquities and ruins;
- rocky crevices.
It is worth noting that some subspecies of these feathered dens are located in very exotic places.
Fun fact:The elf owl, inhabiting North America, has a very flimsy beak, so he can’t gouge a hollow on his own, often he occupies empty nests and hollows of other birds. But the original place of his residence is a hollow made in a huge cactus called saguaro, which is very unusual.
Owls have an unsurpassed gift of disguise, they can be heard, but it is very difficult to see. Owl likes a secretive, spy life, so he is very careful about everything, especially when meeting with two-legged, whom he oh, how he does not trust. The owl cry in the night can instill fear and frighten; it is not for nothing that the bird is the hero of various frightening legends and beliefs. Based on the various methods of hunting, the habit of making pantries, owls can be called very smart, economic and prudent birds. If you do not pay attention to all the signs and superstitions, then it is quite possible to tame them and keep them at home.
Social structure and reproduction
Owls become sexually mature closer to a year old. It is not for nothing that we previously called them prudent, because they begin to look for a passion for themselves already with the advent of February, and the wedding season begins only in the spring. Cavaliers lure the feathered ladies with their loud exclamations, then look after them, treating them with the goodies they caught.
Romantically tuned winged stroking each other and lightly pinching with their beaks. After arranging the nest, the female begins to lay eggs, which can be from 2 to 5. Incubation begins from the moment the first egg is laid, so the chicks develop unevenly and, when they acquire normal plumage, only one or two cubs often remain alive, although parents they are treated very carefully.
The female is absent from hatching offspring only once a day, and even then, not for long. The rest of the time, the future feathered father takes care of her, bringing food and protecting her from ill-wishers. The male also replaces the partner when she is away. Chicks hatch after a month, babies are born blind and covered with fluff.
After the moment of plumage, the kids live in the nest of their parents for about three weeks, at which time the parents instill in the offspring all the necessary hunting skills. The growth of birds is quite rapid, so after a month they look like their mature relatives. Young growth gains complete independence in August, going into adulthood, which in owls can last up to fifteen years.
Natural enemies of the owl
Owls have enough enemies in natural wild conditions. Those birds that live near human settlements often suffer from ordinary cats, tropical feathered inhabitants are afraid of monkeys, which also often settle near cities. Danger for owls is represented by various, omnivorous, large birds (for example, a raven). A raven can beat an owl to death with its beak. Various snakes pose a threat to chicks born in hollow trees.
Owls suffer greatly from the parasites that overcome them, both internal and external. It is the chicks infected with parasites that often die before they have fledged. The enemies of owls can also include a person who often invades the habitats of winged ones, displacing them from inhabited lands as a result of various economic activities, which negatively affects bird life.
With people, owls behave with great caution, not allowing them to come close to themselves. If the person is still too close, then the frightened owl itself tries to scare the two-legged one, swaying in different directions and bowing funny. To see such a dance is very hilarious, but it happens extremely rarely. If this dancing intimidating maneuver has no effect, and the enemy does not retreat, the owl takes off and soars close to the ground.
Population and species status
The range of owl settlement is quite large, and in some places their population is numerous, does not cause any fears, but not everywhere things are so favorable. Over the past decade, it has been noticed that the number of owls throughout the European territory has noticeably decreased, this also applies to our country. Environmental organizations are concerned about this situation and are trying to take all necessary measures to stabilize the owl population.
Not one, but a number of factors negatively affect the number of these owls. Firstly, these are people who destroy natural biotopes, worsen the ecological situation, occupy the places of permanent deployment of birds for their own needs. Using various pesticides to irrigate cultivated fields, a person destroys many owls that feed on field rodents.
Secondly, these are parasites that take away a lot of bird lives, especially those that have recently been born. Thirdly, the lack of food in certain places (especially during the harsh winter period) greatly reduces the ranks of birds. Fourthly, the increase in the number of corvids greatly harms the owls. The totality of the above negative impacts leads to the fact that the number of owls is constantly decreasing, therefore, in many regions they need special protection.
Protection of owls
As it turned out earlier, the population of owls is steadily declining, which cannot but disturb environmental organizations. The brown owl is listed in the Red Book of the Moscow Region as rare. In all adjacent areas, this feathered species is also considered a Red Book species. Special protective measures in the Moscow region have been taken since 1978, and the owl appeared in the Red Book of the capital itself only in 2001. Bird nesting places are classified as reserved. The main limiting factors here are: a harsh climate, high winter precipitation, which makes it difficult to obtain food, an increased number of corvids attacking owls.
The pygmy owl is listed in the Red Books of the Amur and Tula regions. Everywhere it is considered rare, and in the Amur Region a decrease in its already small number has also been recorded. Possible reasons for this situation are the lack of places for nesting and poor knowledge of the species. The boreal owl can be seen in the red lists of the Lipetsk, Ryazan and Tula regions, Mordovia. On the territory of the Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod regions, it is on the list of species that need special control over their abundance and condition. Here, the number of birds is negatively affected by the cutting down of old forests. Hunting for these birds is strictly prohibited. At the international level, all the listed varieties of owls are listed in the second appendix to the CITES Convention.
In the end, I would like to add that, despite all the frightening legends and bad omens, the owl looks quite cute and attractive, and deep, enticing, the smart and piercing gaze of birds is simply mesmerizing. Having studied their way of life and habits, it becomes clear that these small-sized winged predators are very savvy, very cautious and independent.