Bird Families

Strigiformes: Owls

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Long-eared owl (lat. Asio otus ) - a bird from the family of owls, outwardly resembling a reduced copy of an eagle owl (Latin Bubo bubo), from which, however, it differs in lighter plumage. The owl got its name for its magnificent "ears" (ear bundle, consisting of 6 feathers).

The long-eared owl lives mainly in forests (both coniferous and deciduous). She does not make nests herself, but uses old nests of other birds, giving preference to magpies and crows nests. Owls are quite sociable birds and easily gather in large flocks of up to 20-25 individuals. In pairs, they are separated only for the time of hatching of chicks, and then they unite again, and by autumn they migrate in search of feeding places. If owls already live in a place where food is present in abundant quantities (for example, there are a huge number of mice on the slopes of Mamaev Kurgan), then the flock remains in place.

Owls prefer to feast on field mice, but will not give up on shrews or other small mammals. If there is no favorite food, then they can eat off a small bird or even a sick, tired partridge, which, however, happens much less often.

Owls cannot digest the whole mouse, they burp the bones and hair of their prey. A small gray "sausage" in which you can distinguish the remains of a mouse is called a "pellet". Under the places of daytime sleep, even a small flock can be found several dozen of such pellets.

Since the owl is a nocturnal predator, during the day it does not hunt, but prefers to sit in the dense shade of a tree as close as possible to the trunk, where its variegated color and shadow almost completely hide the bird from prying eyes. If during a daytime sleep no one violates her personal space, the owl sits with her eyes closed and her head tightly pressed into her body. When suspicious aliens appear, the owl slightly opens its eyes (or one eye) to the distance of a very small crack.

The owl meets further advance in its direction by raising its "ears" and stretching its head.

In general, the owl is low-fearful and does not feel much anxiety if it is being watched. Even if you come very close, right under the trunk of a tree where owls are sitting, they can open their eyes and look with surprise at an uninvited guest, and only after some thought they fly to another tree nearby to plunge into slumber again.

However, sometimes from a new place they continue to follow the tree where they sat before, and after the uninvited guest leaves, they fly back.

Slightly alert eared owls perfectly disguise themselves as sleeping, no matter where you approach them - they, like "Mona Lisa", are always watching you. The head and body turn imperceptibly to look at you, and even lean forward if the person comes close to the tree.

Among the flock of eared owls, you can always distinguish a guard owl. This bird sits on a branch so that nothing prevents it from tracking the approach of danger. She gives an unspoken command to the flock to fly away.

Eared owls fly, like all night hunters, absolutely silently. The flock flying overhead does not create unnecessary sounds and only casts a shadow on the ground.

There is a serious misconception that owls are afraid of sunlight, as it blinds them. This is not entirely true, the bright sun is really unpleasant for owls, since their eyes are adapted to nocturnal activities.

However, they see perfectly during the day, and even in the coming twilight they can go hunting if the chicks want to eat. Long-eared owls love to sunbathe: they spread their tails and wings, stretch their heads up to warm up all parts of the body.

Owl chicks constantly want to eat, they emit loud whistles and cries, demanding food from caring parents. The same ones often catch mice in larger quantities than necessary, and sparingly lay out the carcasses of rodents along the edge of the nest. Even a well-fed long-eared owl, if it sees a mouse, will not miss the moment to catch it, after which it tears off its head and takes the remains of the mouse to the pantry. For this, long-eared owls are very much appreciated by farmers - the appearance of a flock near agricultural land is perceived by them as a great success.

The only serious danger for long-eared owls, as well as for any feathered predator, is represented by flocks of crows.

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