The Owl Pages

Owl Frequently Asked Questions

The Questions

Q: I've seen an owl, can you tell me what kind it is?

A: This is the gist of most of the questions I get. I would encourage you to try and find out yourself first, by visiting our Owls of the World page. If you are still not sure, please send me as much information as possible. A photograph is extremely helpful. Essential information is: your country, state/region and city/town. Now, I live in Australia, and I don't happen to know every state in every country, so please do not abbreviate state names. If you don't have a photo, please be as descriptive as you can be. Things like size, eye colour, presence of ear tufts, beak colour, plumage colour and pattern help narrow down the possibilities!

Q: I'd like to keep the aforementioned owl around, what can I do to encourage it to stay? Can I feed it?

A: The best way to encourage your owl to stick around is to build it a house! We have an Owl artificial nest resource page to help you with this. I don't recommend trying to feed them.

Q: I'd like to get rid of the aforementioned owl, what can I do to make it clear off without hurting it?

A: This is a difficult question and there is no easy answer. The folks over at Bird-x might be able to help. Also check out the article on hawk and owl control in the downloads section. If the owl is caring for young, we humbly beg you to let the young leave home before you try and move the parents on.

Q: The aforementioned owl is [ sick, dying, injured, abandoned, posessed ], what can I do to help it?

A: Please refer to our Owl Rehabilitation Help Page.

Q: I took a picture of the aforementioned owl, can I send it to you to put on your site?

A: Yes, you sure can! I love to receive owl pictures from around the world. I am especially interested in species that we don't have pictures of yet. If your picture is of a common species, then I may not put it on the site. Visit the Contact Page for instructions on contributions. You might also like to post on our facebook page.

Q: I really love owls, can I have one as a pet?

A: The laws about owl ownership vary from country to country. In the USA and Australia, it is illegal to own a native owl. There are exceptions to this, for people in the USA that have a Rehabilitation or Falconry License, but even this varies from state to state. There are two very helpful documents on our downloads page, "For the love of owls" and "Owl Keeping". Also, there is some excellent advice at this external link: 'Owls as Pets'.

Q: I already own an owl, and am having trouble with [ Breeding, Incubation, Feeding, Health, Personal Hygiene ], can you give me some advice?

A: No. I have no experience caring for owls, my interest is wild owls and their biology and natural history.

Q: What do owls eat?

A: Generally, owls eat rodents, small mammals, and/or insects. Some species specialise in other food, such as fish. For more details, see our Owl Physiology: Food & Hunting section.

Q: I have a little [ cat, dog, ferret, aardvark ] as a pet, will an owl attack and eat it?

A: The large owl species will occasionally take small domesticated animals as prey when their usual supply of pesky rodents is running low. The best advice is to keep your pet indoors or caged at night. You should keep in mind that domestic pets kill many native birds and animals each year, so keeping it in at night will also save some of these lives.

Q: How come owls have such good [ hearing, eyesight ]? Why do they have flat faces?

A: The answers to these questions and more are in our Owl Physiology section.

Q: Why do owls Hoot?

A: Firstly, you should realize that not all owls hoot. Have a listen at our Owl Calls Gallery, and you will see just how many different sounds owls make. Now, owls call for the same reason as any other critter makes noises - to communicate. A call may be territorial - warning others to stay away, or it can be to contact a mate or young, or advertise availability for breeding...

Q: What is a group of owls called?

A: You'd be surprised how much this gets asked! A group of owls is called a parliament. This is the most popular and accepted term, but I have also seen: bazaar, brood, congress, diss, eyrie, glaring, hooting, looming, nest, sagaciousness, stare, stooping, and wisdom.
There are also some more specific terms I've seen, such as silence (when in flight), stable (Barn Owls), jail (Barred Owls), prohibition (Barred Owls), schizpphrenia (Hawk Owls), volery (Little Owls) and blizzard (Snowy Owls).

Q: What is a baby owl Called?

A: A baby owl is called an owlet. This word is also used for some of the smallest species of owls.

Q: What is a female owl called?

A: During my time associated with owls, I have never heard of a particular special word for a female owl. I have heard the term 'hen' used, but this is a generic term for a female bird, and not specific to owls.

Q: Do owls hibernate?

A: No, owls do not hibernate.

Q: What continent can't you find owls on?

A: I think this must often get asked by teachers for school projects. The answer is Antarctica.

Q: Can you send me some owl facts?

A: Probably another school project question. You are best off starting in our Owl Physiology section. Plenty of nice owl facts there.

Q: What is the biggest or largest owl in the world?

A: Opinions differ on this question. General consensus points towards the Eurasian Eagle Owl, which is the largest in weight and average length. Some sources say it is the Great Grey Owl, as some individuals can have quite a big overall length. It should be noted that much of the bulk of the Great Grey Owl is due to its generous plumage. Also worth a mention is the little known Blakiston's Fish Owl which has unpublished average and maximum weights exceeding the Eurasian Eagle Owl.

Q: What is the smallest owl in the world?

A: Bet you didn't see this one coming! There are also different opinions on this one. Some sources say it is the Least Pygmy Owl, others say it is the Elf Owl. Also worth a mention is the tiny Long-whiskered Owlet. The smallest overall length measurement I've seen in a publication is for the Elf Owl in the book "North American Owls; Biology and Natural History" by Paul Johnsgard. The measurement is 10.5cm.

Q: What [ Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Sub-Phylum, Class, Order ] are owls in?

A: Go to our Owl Physiology page for a detailed classification of owls.

Q: How many species of owls are there in the world?

A: This depends on which authors and biologists you agree with. I try to list all of them and let you decide. Here is our list of owl species - you will find the total at the bottom of the page.

Q: Why don't you have the Tawny Frogmouth Owl in your species list?

A: Because there is no such owl. The Tawny Frogmouth is a bird that is often confused with an owl. Here is a link for more information about the so-called Tawny Frogmouth Owl.

Q: Hey, I e-mailed you months ago, and you never answered! What gives?

A: 1) Either your question or my answer got gobbled up by a spam filter.
2) I've lost your e-mail in my system's folders somewhere!
In any case, please do try again, use a different email account if you have one.

Got any more questions?   Contact me.