The Owls Of New York


Like hawks and eagles, owls of New York are birds of prey. They are most noticable because of their large eyes. They cannot move rotate their eyes within the socket, so they must move their head when looking about. Because they have forward facing eyes, they have well developed binocular vision giving them great depth perception.

Owls' ears are located on the facial disc behind the eyes and are concealed by feathers. The tufts of feathers atop some owl's heads, referred to as 'ear tufts' are for display only. Their hearing is very sharp, enabling them to pinpoint the slightest noises made by potential prey.


Owls have developed special feathers that enable them to minimize sound when flapping their wings. The forward edges of their primary feathers have a stiff fringes that reduces noise while the trailing edges have soft fringes to reduce turbulence. Their wing surfaces are covered in downy feathers to further reduce sound.

Owls are primarily nocturnal hunters and hunt alone. They perch in trees with a good view of their surrounding area waiting for small animals and rodents such as mice, squirrels, voles and rabbits. Owls cannot chew their prey since, like all birds, they do not have teeth. Instead, they swallow small prey whole or tear larger prey into smaller pieces with their sharp hooked beak before swallowing.

Owls do not make their own nests. Instead they use nests abandoned nests made by other large birds or in the hollow trunks of trees.

Interesting New York Owl Facts:

  1. Not all owls "hoot". Some beep, screech, or hiss. Many species make a variety of sounds.
  2. Although they are silent hunters, they will often make noise to alert other owls of their
  3. presence and to establish their hunting territory.
  4. They regurgitate the indigestible parts of their food in the form of pellets. These grey pellets
  5. often contain fur, feathers, bones and scales.
  6. Owls bathe in puddles, shallow ponds, snow, and will even shower in the rain.
  7. A group of owls is called a "parliament."
  8. Like other birds of prey, the tendons in an owls talons lock enabling them to grasp on to
  9. prey or branches without having to continually contract their muscles.

Common Owls of New York

OWLS by Marianne Taylor

The first part of the book looks in detail at owl biology: how they live, how they breed, and how they feed. The second part includes species accounts for all 47 species of owls that occur in the northern hemisphere, with emphasis on those of Europe and North America. The book is richly illustrated with sensational, full-color photographs of these compelling birds.

click here to buy the book

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