• Bird Academy
      Bird Academy
      How does the lifestyle of owls compare with other birds you know about? What things are similar and what are different?
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    • Alicia
      Participant
      Chirps: 24
      The most striking difference between the lifestyle of owls and other birds is their adaptation to the night. I have always been fascinated by nocturnal animals who adapt to this very different way of living. Owls, like other birds, build nests, lay eggs, incubate those eggs, and care for thier young.
    • benoit
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I don't know well the behavoir of night bird to compare. I m very impresive about owl, thier capacity to fly  with no noise, to ear with such precision, to see with a few light. I wouold lie to know how can i swatch them, i have never see one
    • Loretta
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      I absolutely love birds. From backyard birds, parakeets, parrots, chickens, ducks, and especially birds of prey like Owls and Falcons. The lifestyle of owls are similar to falcons because they are predators, eating small animals and hunting from above. They are different from birds like chickens and ducks due to the fact that they don't eat the same thing, nor do they stay in groups. They are also nocturnal and regurgitate their food instead of passing it through their bowels.
    • OOPS! Sorry, but in my previous post I meant that LONG-eared owl, not short-eared owls, are know to roost together in the non- breeding season!
    • I found the fact that owls are such loners interesting and quite a contrast to the many birds who flock and move together during the non-breeding season.  I had always had an idea that owls were loners, but did not realize the degree to which they are loners. It was interesting that, as an exception, short-eared owls are know to form communal roosts. In regard to family life, the concept of the young "branching" was interesting.  I am really enjoying this course. All kinds of new information!
    • Leanne
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      F891758A-71B2-4427-8260-D57D06E3E4CCDC258FC4-F866-4231-A771-043FFDA9F8F0_1_106_c Found these northern saw-whet owls in an aspen tree at South Lake Tahoe, 7/31/14
    • Nancy
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      similarities between owls and other birds: They nest, they lay eggs, raise chicks, defend territories, fly With the exception of flightless birds. Differences between owls and other bird species is : Owls are nocturnal, what they eat is different from, for example.... Blue Birds, Cardinals, Finches, etc. (the seed/fruit eaters and totally different from what Hummingbirds eat. How they fly silently is different too!
    • Linda
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Their song/call is so different from other birds. Hearing one at night is always a surprise and a treat. It's a mysterious and almost eerie mood-setter, especially when you can't spot it, visually. Their big eyes also seem to dare you to a round of combat, what with their forward-facing gaze.
    • Barbra
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      DSCN1312DSCN1399DSCN1106 Watching grea horned owls nest on our campus has really helped me understand their life cycle better. These are a few photos of the owlets.
    • Kathleen
      Participant
      Chirps: 57
      I have seen few owls in my life which is due to where I live and my habits and some other things which I have little control over. As I have indicated earlier, the only owl that I have been lucky to see in my neighborhood is  the Great Horned Owl in December of two different years.  I will compare  the owl to a frequent visitor to my feeding station in my back yard: the red-bellied woodpecker. As I have come to find out as a result of this course is  the relationship between woodpeckers and owls. Owls need woodpeckers for their abandoned nests as few owls build their own. Woodpeckers are daytime birds and many owls are nighttime birds. Owls are birds of prey and woodpeckers are not. Someday, I hope to have a chance to view such great owls as the Great Gray Owl, the Spotted Owl, and the SawWhet, to name a few. I would love to gaze upon a Snowy Owl but I live in Texas, so not likely that I will see one unless I travel, which I hope happens some day. I love owls for their place in the wilderness,  which we need to preserve to the benefit of all.
    • Heather
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      I keep thinking about how the Northern hawk owl looks so much like the northern Harrier, one of my favorite raptors. I do so love their ability to move so incredibly slowly, low over a field, appearing to defy gravity as they barely move forward but barely flap their wings. I like the owls that hunt that way, I suppose. Especially impressive is the Great Grey Owl when he glides over the snow listening for prey.
    • David Ricardo
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      The owls are birds and therefore do the same things that the vast majority of birds do. But they differ by their mainly nocturnal habits, they are not very sociable (although there are exceptions), they reproduce and feed in a very particular way. Parents are very protective, even against another predator. The pellets are very interesting because we can know what owls eat.DSCN7293 Baby of the Short-eared Owl in the Sabana de Bogotá, Colombia
    • Esteban
      Participant
      Chirps: 128
      Even  baby owls look cute with those fluffy feathers and  forward eyes. I like very much the spectacled owl and the burrowing owl babies. It is surprising how they pass from that to an adult. The pellets did not seemed very disgusting to me. I also did not knew owls migrated. I only knew the burrowing owl did it. I even knew less that they moved from Europe to Asia.
    • Kennedy
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Though owls engage in the same activities as most birds (hunting, raising young, etc.), their most notable differences are that they are nocturnal, do not often build their own nests, regurgitate sizable pellets, and are solitary. However, some of these characteristics are not strictly confined to owls (though they are commonly associated with them). For example, most raptors have pellets and are solitary. Some herons are also nocturnal.
    • Johanna
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Owls are way more solitary than other birds but this works in their  lifestyle because than they would be noticed more and avoided or driven off. Their sit and watch technique reminds me of flycatchers but they are able to do it in the dark which is incredible. Their secrecy is incredible! Does anyone have any tips on how to find owls especially the small ones?
    • Link
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      The perch-and-pounce technique kind of reminds me of when flycatchers wait for an insect to fly by before they quickly dart towards and grab their prey. However owls can do this in complete darkness using only their hearing.
    • Tam
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      image
    • Tam
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      The wings of a robin are more slender and pointed , the owls have rounded powerful wings and the feathers up close on the owl are soft not like the robins stiff feathers. Owls are powerful hunters.  The food selection of robins is different then some owls, they eat small insects. Robins build their nests but owls are cavity nesters often using a banded nests.
    • Ashlyn
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Owls perform all the same activities as other birds (raising young, finding food, and claiming territories, to name a few).  However, their ways of doing so are tailored to their specific niche--nocturnal predation. I see many similarities between owls' lives and those of other birds of prey.  They catch live food, engage in strenuous hours of hunting, and teach their young to hunt as well.  Also, they share many of the same structural design features (talons, strong beak, and powerful wings). However, an obvious difference between owls and these other birds is their nocturnal nature.  Owls are specially designed to live in the dark, and they do so excellently!
    • Cathy
      Participant
      Chirps: 45
      It was interesting that many owls do not travel widely, and can find their food  - in many cases -  without migrating far away.   It was also interesting to learn that they are more solitary, and often don't interact much -  even when they are together. I really enjoyed the resource about the Snowy Owl Baltimore.  He is a migrator, and it was rather humorous to follow the path of some of his southern (south of the Arctic that is) visits.  What a wide variety of locations he traveled.  A very versatile bird!
    • Karrin
      Participant
      Chirps: 47
      I hadn't ever really considered before what loners owls are. It occurs to me that humans solving a problem can be categorized according to owl hunting behavior: sit and watch or go after it!
    • Yvonne
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      I was surprised that owls leave the nest before they can fly; the whole concept of branching. It was interesting to watch that one owl climb the tree!
    • Paula
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      I found the pouncing, preying practise and the branching incredible.  Owls do seem like loners and very interesting how they don't make their own nests and how their heads don't actually move 360 degrees - a great illusion!!
    • The Owl Family, seems to be more private, and almost scared/paranoid, of beholders. One thing I want to do, is get a picture of a raptor, that seems easier to photo, than Owls and Hawks/Eagles. A Vulture cleaning a carcass. I do not think I will ever see an Owl, that will stay still. I have seen them perch, and fly away. And like an Eagle, or Hawk, they do not seem to like being in the eye of a beholder.   What is it about some birds, that they do not get scared away. I have seen Swans, right next to me, and other Swans have eaten,out of a persons hand, even in the wild. An Owl is scared, like a smaller bird. And they are never near people. Even skittish small birds, eat near people, and will eat out of a persons' hand, if food is presented. Why is such a strong bird, so skittish ?   And just in general, what makes a bird scared, or not, of people ? Why can a Swan, be within a  few feet of you ? And a Goose too. And other birds be completely scared ? Owls also seem to have more personality to them. The pics I have seen, almost show human moods to them. Not blank, nor plain. Like they are wearing a fear, and a care, on their sleeve. Not a plain bird.
    • Katie
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      Owls definitely work alone....but that is similar to most raptors. It is also interesting how they are able to find their prey even in the winter time, unlike some song birds that have to travel in order to continue to feed. Do owls greatly change any of their diets for the winter time? I know some songbirds like the Eastern Bluebird change their diets for the winter months. I was very lucky this weekend to see a Northern Saw Whet Owl that likes to come to the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve but other than that I have only see Barred Owls. Owls are so much harder to find...not only because of their nighttime lifestyle but also when we can see them during the daytime, their feathers SO greatly camouflage them! Plus they are normally so still as they are sleeping. Looking forward songbirds, you are always drawn to the movement of them. DSC_5189DSC_5193
      • Karrin
        Participant
        Chirps: 47
        Wow! If you hadn't mentioned there was an owl in the photo (and provided a close-up), I wouldn't have seen it!
      • Dolores
        Participant
        Chirps: 5

        @Karrin Recently I was birding in Green-Wood Cemetery here in Brooklyn and one of the more experienced among us spotted a Northern Saw-whet perched low in a yew shrub.  We broke into small groups of three to move in closer for a glimpse. I was studying and studying, thinking I could not see it even though I was gazing exactly where our guide was instructing us to look!  I was just about to give up when I realized what I had been thinking was a stick was in fact the Saw-whet angled in such a way that it's breast looked like a white stick in a gap area of the yew shrub. All at once, my eyes caught sight of the owls CLOSED eyelids and the whole bird suddenly became clear to me.

    • What I found interesting and did not know was the "Branching" behavior of owls. Although I knew birds will eventually leave the nest they hatched in, falling out of the nest may be a sure way to be entering the "food chain" as a prey. Watching the video of owls climbing back up a tree and getting themselves to safety is not something all bird species may be able to do. Strong legs and claws are sure helpful even at such young age.
      • Katie
        Participant
        Chirps: 13
        Agreed that was interesting to read and then see. Again, it helps that some of those owls are apex predators; although for some young maybe that is when they are snatched by other predators.
    • Michele
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I've been participating in Cornell's Feeder Watch and have seen a variety of different birds, unfortunately no owls. The birds range from my common, resident birds (they are here all year round, Blue Jays and Northern Cardinals) to wintering birds, such as Pine Siskins and American Goldfinches. All of these birds are different from owls because they are here feeding during the day, whereas owls are nocturnal; they are mostly seed eating birds (the wrens and some others also like spiders and bugs); and they are not predatory, although the Pine Siskins can be bullies when it comes to feeders. I love the differences in feathers! There are some owls whose wings have feathers that don't make any sound as they sweep towards their prey, while others such as the Snowy Owl that have wings needed for strength instead of stealth. Birds are very diverse!
    • lily
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Owls, Falcons, and Hawks have pretty similar life styles but, owls hunt in the dark. Owls are different from most birds because they live by themselves or with a mate. I also think it's cool because they take over other birds' nests or live in cavities.
    • leila
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      I learnt alot about how owls hunt at night and their silent flight.  Also how they can turn their head around to see to the back. The owls are solitary and only get together to mate.  The male hunts mice and other small mammals to feed the chicks while the female guards the nest.   The ears are hidden by the side of the face.  I learnt all about the different kinds of owls from all over the world and their migrating patterns.  I was on a nature walk in toronto and saw a Norther see-whet owl in the fir trees.  It was well hidden inside the fir trees sleeping.  It was very calm and just looked at us with one eye very magical.DSCN0074
    • Diana
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Learning about the lifestyles of owls I am struck by the differences in nest building between most owls and the nest building practices of Bald Eagles, for example. There is a mating pair of Bald Eagles in Big Bear CA that has a 24/7 nest cam. They spend weeks and months building and rebuilding their nest, bringing in branches and sticks and rearranging them constantly. The Bald Eagle mating pairs are quite social and spend a lot of time together.
      • Katie
        Participant
        Chirps: 13
        Yes, that was interesting about the lack of really preparing the net. Not much cushion as all either, unlike the soft lined nest of some songbirds.
    • Nemo
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      What I have noticed about owls in general is that they are very "still."   Most birds I know tend to move more when they are perched.   I wondered if this is a raptor characteristics, but other raptors seem to move more than owls.   This may make them look "wiser" or even "creepier " when their heads suddenly turn? I think owls are the birds whose calls are most used intentionally in the movies.  Rarely do calls and images match.  This seems to show owls, along with ravens, have been placed uniquely as objects onto which humans project their thoughts and emotions; thus seen as evil, creepy, and fascinating.   Little owl was associated with Greek goddess Athena.
    • Melanie
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Owls appear to be very solitary.  They get together to mate and have young, but the male does a lot of the hunting and the female stays on the nest and feeds the young.  When I went to count owls at Mount Vernon (there are Screech Owls near the parking lot, Barred Owls at the Tomb, and Great Horned Owls in the plastic Verizon tree), we began our soundings with those of the smaller owls because large owls eat smaller owls and we didn't want to scare the Screech Owls away.  We did not spot Screech Owls that night.  But when we went up to the Verizon tree which is the tallest on the property, the male Great Horned Owl called out.  He flew down first, made a loud hooting sound, then flew up.  The female made a softer hooting sound that sounded farther away.  Owls hunt many kinds of prey in a solitary manner and at night.  Burrowing Owls will form loose colonies and young owls may hang out with with each other before taking off on their own.  When our dog found Screech Owls in our local park (don't worry, I always leash him and he is a terrier and prefers rodents so he was curious as to why he found) I noticed the young had jumped the nest and the adults were up in the tree watching over them .  They young then jumped up other trees to get back to the nest. Within a day or two they had fledged and left the nest.  Owls will get mobbed by crows.  On the Audubon Winter Bird Count at Fort Belvoir we noticed mob action and spotted a Great Horned Owl. In Senegal, Owls are considered to be sorcerers and are regarded at a distance.  I find owls in movies, books, and art work.  Once at the National Gallery of Art East Wing there was a massive pairing done during the Edo period and owls were included.  Owls are fascinating and we love them in our family.
      • Katja
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        Hi there, I'd love to see some of the owls you mentioned in this comment. Are you talking about Mt. Vernon as in George Washington's manor?
      • Cathy
        Participant
        Chirps: 45

        @Katja Hi Katja, I'm not the original author, but based on some of the other areas mentioned (Ft. Belvoir and the National Gallery of Art) I would guess most likely the author did mean Mt. Vernon (G.W.'s manor) in Va.   All of these locations are in the DC area.

    • I was a steward for western purple martin colonies in the Pacific Northwest for many years, so it has been interesting to compare the information about owls’ life styles in this course with what I observed for purple martins. Purple martins are long-distance, inter-hemispheric migrants, which is a seasonal behavior for only a few owl species. Like owls, martins are cavity nesters, but they prefer colonial nesting conditions, whereas owls seem to be territorial with respect to nest sites (and hunting grounds?). Purple martins are exclusively insectivorous and feed on the wing, so their diet is limited compared to that of many owls, even the small owls that eat mostly insects and invertebrates. As an interesting aside:  During my time as a purple martin steward I was aware of two instances of “colony collapse” (sudden loss of adult birds & subsequent death of their chicks by starvation); at least one of those colony losses was documented to be caused by the nocturnal raids of an owl.