Who lives on Presque Isle? – - Owls

July 8, 2011 1:49 pm Published by 5 Comments

And you wanted to know what?

Presque Isle is home to many animals, birds, fish, and insects.  They live in different habitats, for example, ponds, forests, or even dead logs.  Today I thought I would talk about a species that not many visitors ever get to see, the Owl. 

Owls are birds that have large forward-facing eyes and ear holes: hawk-like beaks flat faces and usually a visible circle of feathers around each eye.  One unusual feature of the owl’s structure is that their facial disc of feathers can be adjusted by them to allow them to sharply focus sounds that come from longer distances into their ear cavities. This is the reason for the Owls keen hearing ability.

There are eight different kinds of owls that live on the park.  Presque Isle is home to the following:  barred owl, common barn owl, eastern screech owl, great horned owl, long-eared owl, northern saw-whet owl, short-eared owl and occasionally in the winter a snowy owl or two.

Long-Earred Owl

Here are some interesting details about our Owl friends.

  • Owls have the best night vision of any creature on earth.
  • Great Horned owls can and do eat skunks because they have no sense of smell.
  • Hearing is the owl’s most acute sense.  They can hear a chipmunk at eighty feet or more.
  • Owls know how to use frozen food.  In the winter, they kill their food and let it freeze.  When they need to eat, they just sit on it until it is thawed.
  • The largest owls have eyes the same size as humans, but have much smaller heads, so their eyes look bigger.
  • Owl’s eyes are fixed in their heads and don’t move.  Instead the owl turns its whole head. 
  • Owls can turn their heads about 280 degrees.  (humans just 180)
  • Owls are predators, which mean they kill and eat other animals.
  • Owls are too lazy to build their own nests.  They just move into old hawk or crow nests or use hollow tree cavities.
  • Owls are farsighted.  They are unable to see clearly anything close to their body.
  • Owls come in all sizes.  The largest has a wingspan of over six feet six inches and the smallest has a wingspan of just ten inches.
  • Owls generally swallow their prey whole if it not too big.  Their sharp beak and powerful talons allow them to kill prey before they eat it.
  • Owls produce “Owl pellets.”  These pellets are the indigestible parts of their prey, such as bones, fur, and scales.
  • Owls can fly almost silently and fly more slowly in comparison to other birds of prey. This nearly silent flight is because the leading edges of the owl’s flight feathers are serrated which breaks-up the sound waves.

If you would like to see a Great Horned Owl, the Tom Ridge Environmental Center just put a new one on display yesterday in one of their bio towers.  Ask at the front deck where to look.

Spotted Eagle Owl - - Endangered

TREC and its staff have a minimum of one night walk each month year-around.  In the summer, they try to schedule two walks per month.  These walks are not specially to see owls but many times walkers do get to see them.  The next walk is on July 22 at 8 p.m. The groups walk, led by a park naturalist, leaves from Sawmill Beach.  The topic is another night animal; the bat.  Call TREC for information.


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5 Comments

  • Rebecca says:

    Owls are fascinating! Woodpeckers too. Woodpeckers are (for me) one of the easiest birds to spot and enjoy as they stay put long enough to get a good look while they pound away at a tree. I wonder how many varieties of woodpeckers inhabit Presque Isle. During my next visit to TREC, I’ll get myself a copy of that book!

  • Kethan says:

    Could you write about Phscyis so I can pass Science class?

  • Lyzbeth says:

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