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Comparing the Feeding Habits of Barn Owls and Screech Owls Background Owls are comprised of two closely related families in the avian order Strigiformes-the barn owls or Tytonidae and the typical owls or Strigidae Owls are relatively large birds with a big head and short neck a hooked beak talons adapted to seize prey and soft dense plumage adapted for swift yet almost silent flight Owls have large eyes located on the front of their face The eyes are almost fixed in their sockets so that the entire head must be rotated or bobbed for the gaze to be shifted and for distance to be assessed Owls have excellent hearing and very large ears although these are covered by feathers and are not readily seen The ears are placed asymmetrically on the head to aid in detecting the location of distant almost silent prey Their sense of hearing is probably also aided by their facial disk which helps to focus sound waves onto the ears An owls sense of hearing is so acute that it can accurately strike its prey in total darkness following the squeaks and rustling sounds created by a small mammal in motion The sex of an owl is not easy to distinguish although typically female owls are larger than males Owls begin to incubate their eggs as they are laid When hatching occurs it is sequential and different-sized young are in the nest at the same time During years when prey is relatively abundant all of the young will have enough to eat and may survive In leaner years however only the largest young may be fed adequately Egan T 1994 Oregon Foiling Forecasters Thrives as it protects owls New York Times October 11 pg A1 A19 Most owls are nocturnal predators mostly feeding on small mammals and birds and sometimes on small reptiles frogs larger insects and earthworms A few specialized owls feed on fish
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