Who? Who? An owl that’s who! We see so many beautiful creatures out in our Garden. One of the most majestic ones is the owl! We asked our Education Specialist Bonnie Eamick about owls and other birds.
-How can owls turn their head so far around?
Owls have more vertebrae in their necks than people do- double in fact! Their vertebrae also have enough space so that the owl can turn their heads 170 degrees without pinching any vessels. It’s a good thing they can do this since their eyes don’t move! Their eyes are strongly adapted to see in the dark and they are more like eye-cones than eyeballs. They can’t rotate their eyes side to side or up and down- instead they turn their heads!
-Why do owls sleep during the day?
Owls eyes and ears are highly adapted to help them hunt in the dark, and their feathers help them silently sneak up on their prey. With all that activity of hunting at night, they are sleepy by the time the sun comes up. Their feathers provide them camouflage so they can hide in the trees at night and get a good day’s sleep.
-When is the best time to see an owl?
It’s hard to see an owl. Usually, you hear them. Great Horned Owls typically hoot from the fall through winter and Barred Owls typically hoot in the late winter to spring. We have other species in the area, but these are the ones I usually hear in the Garden. Though if you want to see an owl, you’ve got to have a keen eye. They roost high in the trees, but they blend in very well! Thomas Keever, our photographer, has been lucky enough to spot our Barred Owl and has taken beautiful pictures of it!
-What makes a bird fly?
Birds have multiple adaptations to help them fly. Feathers are pretty amazing- different kinds of birds have different feathers. Duck feathers help them fly, but also allow water to roll off so they don’t get wet. Hawk feathers are designed to help them fly fast, so they can even catch prey in the air! Owls have feathers that are silent in flight- they aren’t fast, but they are quiet!
-How can birds be useful to the Garden?
Birds fill many niches in the food web. Some birds eat seeds and berries and can help transport native seeds around to other locations. Other birds eat bugs including many garden pests. Even our raptors help us out on pest control- they can eat mice, rats and other small mammals that snack in the garden.
-What kinds of birds can we see in the Garden?
It depends on the time of year, but many species of birds can be found in the garden! We have fields, woods, and ponds- many habitats for a variety of species and habits. Birds such as cardinals and hawks can be seen year round. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will return when it’s warm. We’re often visited by a Kingfisher when it rains, and the past few years a pair of Canada Geese have taken residence in our Cypress Pond.
To help keep birds safe, don’t litter! Find a trash can so a bird doesn’t accidentally eat your trash. A fun activity to do to keep birds’ tummies full is to make a bird feeder! Visit our birds for free any time you like with a Garden membership!
Q: What kind of math do birds like? Q: What do you give a sick bird?
A: Owlgebra. A: Tweetment!