They are able to find great places to live that protect them from their environment. However, there are some species that breed in mountains that are at 3,000 feet elevations. More than half of the owls in the world live in the neotropics and sub-Saharan Africa, and only 19 species reside in the United States and Canada. Old growth forests provide ample dark areas for owls to hide from predators Like many organisms, spotted owls rely on forest fires to create their habitat and provide areas for foraging. Many owl species have asymmetrical ears. The threat for the future with many species of owls though has to do with the fact that they may one day lose too much of their habitat for survival. The remaining dozen-plus species are barn owls, which have heart-shaped faces, long legs with powerful talons, and moderate size. Some owls have a higher survival rate and are more likely to reproduce in a habitat that contains a mixture of old growth forests and other vegetation types. Diet and Behavior. There are over 200 species of owls, and they might date back to the days of dinosaurs. Pygmy owl Pygmy owls are also true owls and belong to the family Strigidae, and they belong to the genus Glycedium. Some species stay together for an entire year; others remain paired for life. They are able to find lots of food sources in these areas. The relationships of the owls in general are still unresolved. Mother owls lay between one and 11 eggs over a few days period, with an average of five or six. Owl adaptations include feathers for silent flight, facial discs, asymmetrical ears, … An adaptation is a characteristic that helps give an owl species its best chance at survival. Their preferred habitats vary from species to species but include everything from arctic tundra to marshlands, deciduous and conifer forests, deserts and agricultural fields, and beaches. True owls bear asymmetrical ears, and one ear is slightly higher than the other, which helps in focusing the sound. While it isn’t the ideal solution it is a step that acknowledges that these owls need to be protected. Owl-like birds such as Berruornis and Ogygoptynx lived 60 million years ago during the Paleocene epoch, which means it is possible that the ancestors of owls coexisted with dinosaurs toward the end of the Cretaceous period. Test your knowledge of Barn Owl facts with this fun true or false owl quiz! It weighs only 40g (12.5oz), which is much lighter than a … You can find owls in many places, from forests and deserts to mountains and prairies. The most common place to find owls living is in wooded areas. All owls can be divided in two large groups: barn and true owls. They are one of the two families of owls, with 189 living species in 25 genera. It isn't a good idea to keep owls as pets, and not just because that's illegal in the U.S. and most other countries. This gives owls the ability to crush wounded prey between their talons. They also have access to lots of different food sources because of the other living creatures in the forest. Except for the common barn owl, which is found worldwide, the most familiar owls in North America and Eurasia are the true owls. The most well-known owl from the series is Harry’s owl Hedwig, which is a Snowy Owl. Owls are well known as being very versatile birds when it comes to their habitat. Pygmy owls are small-sized owls, and due to their small sizes, most of the species are known as owlets. Owls live in many different environments but have evolved in order to stay near the top of the food chain. Coloration. Once laid, she does not leave the nest until the eggs hatch, some 24–32 days later, and, although the male feeds her, she does tend to lose weight over that period. Most owls catch mice, voles and other small animals. True owls belong to the family Strigidae. The smallest owl in the world is the elf owl. Anatomy, Feeding, Habitat, Evolution, Predators and Reproduction. A third theory is less likely but more amusing: Since female owls often attack and drive off unsuitable males during mating season, the smaller size and greater agility of males prevent them from getting hurt. Owls are one of the most ancient terrestrial birds, rivaled only by the game birds (e.g., chickens, turkeys, and pheasants) of the order Galliformes. Owls will use any type of hollowed out log or opening in a tree for a nesting area. This genus comprises almost about thirty to thirty-five species that are found all over the globe. Bob Strauss is a science writer and the author of several books, including "The Big Book of What, How and Why" and "A Field Guide to the Dinosaurs of North America. Most species of owls also won’t reproduce at high rates when their basic needs aren’t met. There are about 216 species of owls divided into two families: Barn and Bay owls (Tytonidae) and the Strigidae (true owls). They are made in a fashion that attracts the owls and that they feel safe in them. That misconception often comes from the fact that they perch up high to find their prey. The other family is the barn owls. The most common place to find owls living is in wooded areas. The ancient Egyptians had a kinder view of owls, believing that they protected the spirits of the dead as they traveled to the underworld. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our. Hedwig is meant to be a female owl but is actually played by males. One of the largest owl species, the five-pound great horned owl, can curl its talons with a force of 300 pounds per square inch, roughly comparable to the strongest human bite. One way that humans have helped owls to have a habitat is through the creation of nesting boxes. The strigid family of owls broke off from tyronids and first appeared in the Miocene epoch (23–5 million years ago).