Nature Canada
© Robert Berdan

Hoo’s There?

This blog is written by guest blogger Jessica Linnay.

Owls, though rarely active during the day alongside us humans, are a widely recognizable species represented all over the world in our art, history, and popular culture as a symbol of wisdom and inspired awe. And it’s no wonder – these mysterious and majestic carnivorous birds have adapted to be as captivating as they are good at capturing prey in the night.

Darkness Dwellers

Owls are nocturnal masters of camouflage. Their impressive wings span up to two metres, yet they fly silently, thanks to a special type of feather designed to reduce sound. Their wide, mesmerizing eyes are big and bold in order to spot insects and small rodents in the dark. So big, in fact, that they take on a cylindrical shape that reaches all the way to the back of the skull and keeps them from rotating their eyes to look around. This is why owls are able to swivel their heads around on their necks entirely instead. During daylight, they use special tufts of feathers to help them blend into their surroundings so they can rest.

Spotting Owls

Despite their elusive nature, it is possible to witness one of the 16 species of owl that resides in Canada – with a bit of luck, and tools for search. It’s often easier to hear the eerie nightly hoots of an owl than to spot one. Here’s how to identify different owls by their distinct calls.

As branches become bare at this time of year, the possibility of spotting tree-dwelling owls increases. Some owls, like Canada’s best-known owl, the Great Horned, take over nests abandoned by other birds or tree trunk holes left by woodpeckers. Others, like the aptly named Barn Owl, find suitable nesting ledges in manmade structures like barns, and others still will nest on or under the ground. Be sure to head out with a telephoto lens for your camera, so you can get those close ups while staying a fair distance away!

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Canada’s wilderness is the world’s envy. It’s our duty to keep our true north strong and green.