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Getting to Know Owls at VINS

Most people know that owls are nocturnal creatures—that’s why we don’t often see them. But there’s a lot more to know about these fascinating birds. Don’t miss the opportunity to see owls up close and personal during the Owl Festival at Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) the weekend of February 23 and 24.

Owl Facts

  • There are around 200 different owl species.
  • A group of owls is called a parliament.
  • Most owls hunt insects, small mammals, and other birds.
  • Some owl species hunt fish.
  • Owls have powerful talons, which help them catch and kill prey.
  • Owls can turn their heads as much as 270 degrees.
  • Owls are farsighted, meaning they can’t see things close to their eyes clearly.
  • Owls are very quiet in flight compared to other birds of prey.
  • The color of owl’s feathers helps them blend into their environment (camouflage).
  • Barn owls can be recognized by their heart-shaped face.
  • The eyes of an owl are not true “eyeballs.” Their tube-shaped eyes are completely immobile, providing binocular vision which fully focuses on their prey and boosts depth perception.
  • The tiniest owl in the world is the Elf Owl, which is 5 - 6 inches tall and weighs about 1 ½ ounces. The largest North American owl is the Great Gray Owl, which is up to 32 inches tall.
  • Barn Owls swallow their prey whole—skin, bones, and all—and they eat up to 1,000 mice each year.
  • Not all owls hoot. Barn Owls make hissing sounds, and the Eastern Screech-Owl whinnies like a horse.

Sources: and

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