Owls are almost always portrayed in stories as being wise, but what they are in real life isn't nearly as G rated as storybooks and animated movies would have you believe. They are in reality ruthlessly skilled hunters that can rival any bird of prey. There are a number of things people don't know about these amazing creatures, so we've put together a list of five fun facts about owls for you to think over.
1. Opposable Thumbs
Owls possess what are called zygodactyl talons. What that means is that they have what might be best described as opposable thumbs, of a fashion, or toes. It works like this: two of their talons point forward and two point backward. Their opposable talons are actually more for extending to the side to essentially make a complete circle of inescapable claws when snatching prey.
2. Evolutionary Defense
As it turns out, some owls have fake eyes on the back of their heads much like tigers' spots on their ears or some butterflies, moths and other insects. In an owl's case, it's obviously just their feathers that are a darker shade than the rest of its plumage, but their evenly spaced placement on the back of the head make it appear as if they had eyes there, too.
3. Female Owls
Female owls are frequently larger in size than their mates, and they are capable of staggering the laying of their eggs rather than laying them all at the same time. It's thought this act may be an evolutionary survival strategy to perhaps help ensure more chicks live. It's known as asynchronous hatching.
4. Owl Nesting Habits
Owls are opportunists when it comes to making their homes. That's because they will repurpose another bird's old digs and put their own stamp on it when it comes time to start a family. Owls that nest in holes and burrows also recycle previous abodes rather than dig their own. Lazy or smart, you make the call.
5. Night Owls, Fact or Fiction?
Because we seldom see owls before dusk begins to settle, the thought is that all owls are nocturnal creatures, but it seems that isn't the case. It appears that some species are actually diurnal creatures, which just means that they hunt during daylight hours. A commonly overlooked fact is that owls are reportedly closely related to hawks, which are also diurnal birds.
There is a lot more trivia you still probably don't know about owls, but now you know five more things about them that you probably didn't know before, so you're further ahead than you were before.