Halloween Animals We Love to Fear 2
Speculation about owls was mentioned in early folklore, too long ago to date, but passed down by word of mouth over generations. Mysterious by nature, silent in flight and nocturnal, the owl is a subject of either fascination or fright. Few other creatures have so many different and contradictory beliefs about them.
Owls are not messengers of death and they do not work with sorcerers or witches. Seeing an owl is not bad luck and they cannot smell a storm coming (in fact Great Horned Owls eat skunks because of their poor sense of smell.)
Owls are known for their silent flight and being able to sneak up on prey. This is because of the serrated edges to each flight feather. Soundless wing flaps allow the owl to hear it’s prey more than 900 feet away. They eat insects, rodents, lizards, toads, frogs, bats, other birds, and fish. Owls don’t have teeth, they swallow their prey whole and food is processed in their gizzard. They produce “owl pellets” several times a day that contain undigested food parts like hair and bone.
Barn owls are most often misrepresented in Hollywood as an evil creature. They do have a strange face and a high pitch scream, instead of a hoot but they are by far the best mousers of all the owls. A single barn owl can eat more than 1,000 mice in a year.
The great horned owl is not necessarily a “wise old owl” but they are the most common owl in North America and the largest owl here at The Cove. Females are larger than males. They hunt at night and can carry prey several times heavier than they are. They have the longest eyelashes of any owl.
Advice from an Owl
(The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes)“A wise old owl lived in an oak The more he saw, the less he spoke The less he spoke, the more he heard Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?”
The western screech-owl is small but has huge yellow eyes. He is drawn to your campfire not for any nefarious reasons but rather because he’s hungry and bugs are attracted by the light. It rarely glides but flies more bat-like with erratic movements.
There was a nest of western screech-owls in the Deschutes Campground this year. Three owls were born to the park and made a lot of noise for campers in B-loop!
Come back next week, as another large bird flies in to educate us that beauty is in the eye of the beholder…