General Owl Physiology
|Compiled by Deane Lewis Updated 2012-08-29 Created 1999-04-15|
Domain: Eukaryota (Organisms with complex cells)
Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
Phylum: Chordata (Having a hollow dorsal nervecord and flexible skeletal rod)
Sub-Phylum: Vertebrata (Having a backbone)
Class: Aves (Birds)
Order: Strigiformes (Owls)
Owls are a
group of mainly nocturnal (active at night) birds classified as belonging
to the order Strigiformes, a group which is most closely related to
nightjars (Caprimulgiformes). The order is divided into two families: Tytonidae or
Barn Owls and related species, and Strigidae or Typical Owls.
Click Here to see a full list of the World's Owls.
Appearance: A large, round head and huge, forward-facing eyes are features that make an Owl instantly recognisable. They
also have a sharp, downward-facing beak (or bill), and soft,
cryptically coloured plumage. Males and Females are generally
similar in appearance, although the female is often up to 25% larger.
Adaptations: Owls are Raptors, or Birds of Prey, which
means they hunt other living things for their food,
using their special adaptations and unique abilities that set them apart from any other
Exceptional vision, and acute hearing
play a major part in an Owl's hunting technique. Couple these with
powerful talons and beak, plus the
ability to fly silently, and you have a formidable predator,
using stealth to hunt down prey.
After Eating, Owls regurgitate pellets, which
contain the indigestible bones, fur and feathers of their victims. These pellets can be
collected by researchers to study Owls' eating habits.
Distribution: Owls are found on all continents except
Antarctica, and in a great variety of habitats, from thick forests to open prairies.
The smallest owl in the world is the Least Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium minutissimum) at 12cm (4.5") tall, and
the biggest owl in the world is is generally accepted to be the Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo) at up to 71cm (28") tall.
Parts of an Owl
Parts of a Typical Owl - In this case from the genus Athene.
Face of a Long-eared Owl. Not all species have ear-tufts.
Side view of an owl head. Not all species have false eyes.
Wing and tail of an owl shown from the upperside.
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Campbell, Wayne. 1994. "Know Your Owls". Axia Wildlife