Sinonimi: bird of Minerva · bird of night · hooter
ETYM AS. űle; akin to Dutch uil, Old High Germ. űwila, German eule, Icel. ugla, Swed. ugla, Dan. ugle.
Nocturnal bird of prey with hawk-like beak and claws and large head with front-facing eyes; SYN. bird of Minerva, bird of night.
Any bird of the order Strigiformes, found worldwide. They are mainly nocturnal birds of prey, with mobile heads, soundless flight, acute hearing, and forward-facing immobile eyes, surrounded by “facial discs” of rayed feathers. All species lay white eggs, and begin incubation as soon as the first is laid. They regurgitate indigestible remains of their prey in pellets (castings).
Owls comprise two families: typical owls, family Strigidae, of which there are about 120 species; and barn owls, family Tytonidae, of which there are 10 species.
The snowy owl Nyctea scandiaca lives in the Arctic. The largest of the owls are the eagle owl Bubo bubo, of Eurasia, and the powerful owl Ninox strenua, of Australia, both up to 0.75 m/2.25 ft long. The worldwide common barn owl Tyto alba is now diminished by pesticides and loss of habitat; in Malaysia, it is used for rat control.
The short-eared owl Asio flammeus, of North America, South America, and Eurasia, is a streaked tawny color, about 38 cm/15 in long; it hunts at dawn and dusk and roosts mainly on the ground. The great horned owl Bubo virginianus, of North and South America, measures 56 cm/22 in, has long ear-tufts, and lives in forests, grasslands, and deserts.