Top Ten Owl facts

Thanks to the internet we’ve already learned that owls have ridiculously long legs, so why not let GPT-J elucidate us further on those fascinating birds?

Beware of approaching large squirrels without proper precautions though, because that might cause squirrel blindness! Even owls aren’t immune (and in actuality they can’t fly anyway – didn’t you know?).

The Top Ten facts about owls you'd never have guessed: 10. Hawks and owls are not close relatives. There are a couple of "species" of bird that have sometimes been described as "owls" or "hawks" instead of the actual name. The most obvious example is the screech owl of North America, a creature that may vaguely resemble a large hawk with a human face. But it is not related to the true owls, which are the true, furry, any-idea-what-a-falcon-is birds that have a very different appearance. Another is the hairy-nosed owl, a creature that has started to be called an owl by novices, and which is actually a kind of hawk. 9. The name "owl" comes from the Old English word ouwe, meaning "eye". In English, the big, round, angry, screeching thing in the garden is not called an "owl" but the "owl". The bird is an "owl" and nothing else, a "gibb-owl" or "gib-owl". This is because the Old English word ouwe means "eye" in the general sense of the word, but also specifically "eye" in the sense of "something that lights up and can be seen" or "something resembling an eye". This is the owls' "true" name, the one that is used for naming nearly all other groups of birds. 8. Owls are the only birds that can see in both dark and light. This is just one of those ways that owls are weird, and one of the things that has made them so popular as subjects of paintings, books, literature and film. You probably don't even really have to think about whether an owl can see at night, but it can. This ability makes owls a very popular choice for pet birds, and also for the birds that are sold at pet shops. Because of their vision and their huge eyes, owls can see colour and shadows far better than other birds. They can see even by moonlight, and the dark grey and brown colour of their feathers make them very hard to see in water. 7. Owls are not the only birds that can hear the sounds made by other birds. They can't hear as well as a human ear, but owls have their own special sense of hearing which is much more sensitive than that of any other bird. Owls can hear sounds at frequencies as high as 1,800 Hz, which is the range of sounds made by humans. 6. Owls see in three dimensions, not two. Owls have very good eyesight, and they can see in 3D just as well as a human, but in a slightly different way. All owls have what are called "pigskin" eyes, which are eyes that have slightly different lenses in the two eyes in order to get better depth perception. And most other birds can't see in 3D at all, they have what are called "stereoscopic" eyes, which look in two directions at once, so can only see flat things. Humans and apes and monkeys have stereoscopic eyes, but other animals, including owls and eagles, have different kinds of eyes that can see 3D. 5. You can't tell an owl's gender by looking at it. You can only tell an elderly, white female owl from its young sibling by the colour of its feathers, and this is standard practice for the naming of owls. It helps to distinguish them from other birds if the adults don't eat the young ones, too, which is the case with falcon chicks. Young barn owls need to be fed with their mothers' food to help them grow. After that, butterflies look gross, but you could have the law on your side by saying that a deep red and black pinion moth is, indeed, a cross between a bird and a moth (you'd have to figure out what that means). But from this point on, everything becomes slightly complicated. The eagle moth could be described as being half a moth and half a bird because of its unusual pinion-like wings, but it is not actually a bird. Bird wings have a certain structure known as a "symmetrical costal field" which is the same for all birds, and not present in any of the other groups of insects. This field is actually what flies the moth upwards when it's flying (and not what it uses to mate with, it has another kind of wing field for that). 4. We allow owls into our houses to hunt mice and rats because they are useful. You have to make some allowances for the fact that one of the beasts we find useful is a parasite. Yes, our owls eat moths and beetles and frogs and pests of all kinds. But they also eat rodents, and people who own owls use this fact to make money, by selling the birds, and the rodents, to anyone who wants them. Owls are invaluable as rodent predators, and if you have the skill to keep them happy (like you can keep a squirrel tame) they can be used to eat large quantities of rodents in a short space of time. They are very good at catching rats, and they are also very effective at catching mice, mice in bags, and even rats in bags. They are very good at catching mice and rats, and they are quite good at catching squirrels too, though they have been known to suffer from squirrel blindness when they have to approach very large squirrels. Owls were historically used in Japan to catch rats, but since the 1970s they have been used as pest controllers in the United States. 3. Owls are not predators. Birds of prey are predators, they hunt to eat, and owls do not hunt to eat. They hunt to eat prey that is much smaller than themselves, but they try not to eat rats, even though they are very happy to eat them, and they do not eat mice and moles. 2. Owls don't breed as often as you might expect. Their breeding cycle isn't like the normal summer and winter cycle of most birds, and they don't breed all year round. They nest in holes in trees or buildings, and lay anywhere from one or two eggs up to five. They typically lay two, and the young owls generally fly about half-grown in early spring. Do they breed at night? Yes, they do. But procreation is far less common than that sounds. Owls have a different kind of breeding cycle to other birds. They mate in September, but they mature and lay their eggs in March and April. 1. Owls cannot fly. Owls cannot fly. They cannot spread their wings to move from the nest, and they cannot fly away. And they don't need to. The owls that live in our gardens are not animals who want to escape their situation by moving to other gardens, they are animals who want to stay put. While it is true that most of them are quite large, some are not, and some of the smaller ones are too small to survive a fall anyway.