August 4 is Owl Awareness Day
Happy Owl Awareness Day! A holiday celebrated by a small subset of the world, especially by those of us who really really like cake. Look it up–it really is a Hallmark holiday. And no, it’s not the Weston Owl Awareness Day which is when you send me random accolades and words of praise, also money. Today is about actual living and breathing owls, which are completely amazing beasties, if you did not know that already.
The Weston Owl site’s cool motif was created by a Fiverr artist and was supposed to be a barred owl, though it looks more like a barn owl to me. Few barn owls exist in Massachusetts and mostly all of them hang out in Martha’s Vineyard, because well, wouldn’t you? The most common owl in Massachusetts is the Great Horned Owl with its plumicorns (tufts) making them very recognizable. The Owl’s actual favorite owl is a snowy owl and it is an Owl dream to see one on a winter beach. One of these days…and yes a winter beach does sound good right now.
Why should you appreciate owls? Let me tell you a few reasons:
- There are over 200 species of owl found worldwide and 19 species in North America.
- Owls have special adaptations to help them hunt in the dark for prey. The leading edges of their wing feathers are comb-like to help them fly silently.
- Some species have ears that are asymmetrical, meaning that one ear is higher than the other. Having uneven ears helps owls locate the precise location of their prey.
- Some species have feather tufts on top of their heads called “plumicorns.”
- Owls can swivel their heads close to 270 degrees left or right. They have twice the number of neck vertebraeas mammals; most mammals have 7 neck vertebrae–owls have 14.
Source: American Eagle Foundation
You can read more about owls at MassAudubon or on many other sites. My favorite owl rescue organization is called On the Wing in New Hampshire–their release days are magical. They have saved one snowy owl multiple times because it keeps eating mice that have been poisoned. Don’t ever put out rodenticide. Please.
Happy Owl Awareness Day!