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Hooooo are you, Mr. Owl?

April 9, 2018

If you are out at night you may hear a “hoooo-ooo", and also be lucky enough to see the commonest and most frequently seen of the Hong Kong owls, the pretty Collared Scops Owl.

It raises its ear tufts when alarmed, framing a face of feathers and red rimmed eyes.   

Where to see them: I saw one recently/mid-March on top of Tai Mo Shan, deep in some trees, but they can be found throughout the SAR, wherever there is suitable woodlands for them to perch and hunt. To see them head up to Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Gardens, where they normally have some rescued individuals; and see them in the raptor display on Sundays. http://www.kfbg.org.

 

A group of owls is called a parliament. This originates from C.S. Lewis’ description of a meeting of owls in The Chronicles of Narnia.

Other fun facts about this owl:
1. Its a myth that owls can completely rotate their heads, rather the birds can actually turn their necks 135 degrees in either direction, which gives them 270 degrees of total movement (as opposed to our own 90 degrees).

2. Owls don’t have spherical eyeballs, they have "eye tubes" that go far back into their skulls—which means their eyes are

 fixed in place, so they have to turn their heads to see. 

3. Their big eyes helps them see in the dark, and they're far-sighted, which allows them to spot prey from afar. Up close, everything is blurry, and they depend on small, hair-like feathers on their beaks and feet to feel their food.

4. The scops owl has “ear tufts”, as you can see in the photo. But these are not ears. These tufts indicate the birds mood, rising up when it is alarmed or more aggressive.

5.  Owls have three eyelids: one for blinking, one for sleeping and one for keeping the eye clean and healthy. The third eyelid is also called the nictitating membrane.

6. Owls make virtually no noise when they fly. They have special feathers that break turbulence into smaller currents, which reduces sound.

7. Owls often symbolise learning and knowledge as in ancient Greece, the Little Owl was the companion of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. She was also a warrior goddess and the owl was considered the protector of armies going into war.

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