Animal Poachery

Duck Owl Albatross

Ξ Poem Owl Notes Song ♫
© 1992..2009 by Andreas Wittenstein. Some rights reserved. (CC)

hoots, whoops: Not all owls utter the slow low-pitched “who” whistle that constitutes a hoot. The call of the saw-whet owl is not as slow, and quite a bit higher in pitch, while that of pygmy owls is even quicker and still higher-pitched. Screech owls and boreal owls trill at medium pitch, and barn owls utter a whispered shriek.

scowling: By human facial standards, the owl's unremittingly glaring eyes and sharply downwardly curved beak give them a stern look of disapproval.

towering: In common with other raptors, owls command high perches from which they can survey their hunting territory.

haunt: In contrast to the ostentatious eyries of eagles and hawks, owls favor well-hidden redoubts where they will not be disturbed during their daytime sleep.

launch: Owls launch themselves from their perches in complete silence by leaning forward and falling into a glide, sometimes not opening their wings until they are almost upon their prey.

glowering: Owls stare so superbly because they have no choice. Their forward-facing eyes are permanently affixed to the sclerotic rings in their sockets. Even without these bony ligaments, an owl still wouldn't be able to roll its eyes, because its eyes are not at all spherical: the retina at the back of the eye mushrooms out on all sides. In compensation, in spite of its outwardly neckless appearance, the owl has a unique ability to turn its head almost all the way upside down and almost all the way backwards In fact, it can swivel its head back around so quickly and silently that it often gives the impression of turning its head full circle.

look out: The only hope most prey have of avoiding a strigine predator attacking silently from above in the dead of night is to glimpse its shadow passing before the stars, and even that only on a clear night.

prowling: Owls have perfected the art of prowling about silently in the dark. With their extraordinary huge and sensitive eyes, comprising up to 5% of their body weight, it is no surprise that owls can hunt by sight in the dimmest light. But in the absence of any visible ears —the feathery earlike tufts on some owls being mere adornments— it is all the more astounding that they can hunt by sound in complete darkness. Actually, in owls the entire facial disk, which can be reshaped at will to direct sound, acts as an outer ear to collect sound; and tunnels through the feather coat act as ear canals. With the help of left-right asymmetries in these tunnels and in the temporal regions of the skull, and an inordinately acute sense of hearing, owls can localize the source of a sound accurately enough to catch animals scurrying beneath several centimeters of earth or nearly a meter of snow. To take advantage of their unrivalled vision and hearing, owls hunt with unrivalled stealth on wings whose leading edges are fringed with flutings that break up the rushing air into inaudible microturbulences.

hunt: Owls observe a strict diet of freshly killed meat, including other birds, small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish, crabs, snails, insects, spiders, and worms).

hovering: The owls of most species can hover silently for long periods of time while stalking their prey, waiting for the perfect moment to pounce.

lunch: Lunch for an owl would be at midnight, rather than midday, because owls are mostly nocturnal, sleeping during the day. The owl lacks a crop in which to store undigested food, and swallows its prey whole or in large chunks without much plucking. After getting bathed in digestive juices in the forestomach (proventriculus), the food is ground up in the owl's gizzard, which filters out and compacts the indigestible parts into a pellet. This pellet is then passed back up to the proventriculus, where it often remains for up to 10 hours before being regurgitated. With its food pipe thus blocked, one meal a night is often all an owl will consume, but owls sometimes store surplus catches in their nests or other food caches.

For more information on owls, see the Wikipedia Owl article.

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