In the month of February, you may hear a lot about “Superb Owls”. They are pretty superb, just as exciting as a halftime show, really. There are more than 200 species of owl, ranging in size from five to 28 inches tall, with wing spans between one and six-and-a-half feet. They can also live just about anywhere, from tundra to woodland and rainforests. They may be missing from Antarctica, but living on all the other continents is fairly superb, too. Read on to learn some interesting facts about these birds.
They’ve Been Around for a Long Time
Owls first appeared on the fossil record about 60 million years ago. Humans have long included them in our art and folklore, too. An 18-inch owl carved into a French cave dates back more than 30,000 years. Owls are also found in the myths of many cultures. Among the most notable is the little owl that often accompanied Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and war. Her owl was said to reveal truths to her and was a symbol that reflected the goddess’ wisdom. By extension, Athens, for which Athena was patron, chose the owl as their symbol.
No Eye Rolling From Them
Owls can see pretty well, with large, forward-facing tube-shaped eyes in the front of their heads. This gives them binocular vision, which allows for better depth perception and distance judgment when preparing for an attack. However, there is a catch: They can’t rotate their eyes because they don’t have eyeballs, and those tube-shaped eyes can’t move within their sockets.
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.