Has almost world-wide distribution
Likes open field and hedge rows for hunting. Prefers to nest in ruined houses, barns, pigeon cotes and similar farm buildings, and in large hollow trees.
Has a complete ruff-like ring of feathers around the head, giving it a heart-shaped facial disc, with dark eyes. The feet are bare or covered with only a few soft feathers. It has magnificent plumage, golden or reddish above, with brown, gray or white markings. The under parts are whitish with black spots. This is one of the most common European birds.
It returns to the same nesting place year after year. It can fly rapidly but relies on surprise rather than speed in hunting. Its exceptionally acute hearing enables it to locate prey in absolute darkness. A common name is the "flying mouse trap," due to its silent flight and deadly effect on mouse populations. When threatened, it puffs its feathers to increase body size in an attempt to look bigger and more frightening.
Breeding takes place in the spring, in four-month cycles, two broods a year are possible in areas with long summers. Two to eleven eggs are laid at two to three day intervals. They are incubated from the day the first egg is laid, so they hatch at intervals. There is often such a difference in sizes that larger ones may eat the smaller as they hatch. Incubation lasts for about a month. The eyes of the young open in five days.
Huge binocular eyes have great light-gathering power but have poor focusing ability at close range. The ears are very sensitive and supplement the vision; they can pinpoint the rustling of a mouse in total darkness. Some owl species are believed to hunt by sound rather than sight. The head can swivel through about 180 degrees. This is because their eyes cannot rotate in the sockets. The beak is compact and hooked. Flying birds have superb eyesight, a prerequisite of flight. No other living thing can match the visual acuity of birds. Owls have a wider range of binocular vision than any other bird.
|Average Lifespan:||5 years|
|Wild Diet:||The preferred food is mice, but they also eat all manner of small animals such as shrews, pack rats and ground squirrels as well as small reptiles and amphibians. The diet is almost exclusively rodents when available. Only when rodents are not available will they eat small birds.|
|USFWS Status:||Not Listed|
|CITES Status:||Not Listed|
|Where at the Zoo?||South Pathway|