Did you know that the typical cartoon depiction of the wise old owl is actually quite far from reality? In fact, owl intelligence falls into the lower range of bird brain power. But what owls lack in brain power, they more than make up for in other areas. They’re fascinating creatures and a hoot to learn about. Here are some interesting facts that may help increase your owl IQ.

  • There are around 200 different owl species. They are found in all regions of the earth, except Antarctica.
  • A group of owls is called a parliament. If you’ve ever watched Question Period on CPAC you know how ruthless parliament can be – not unlike a group of carnivorous owls.
  • Male and female owls mate in winter in order to produce hatchlings in spring. Mating rituals vary from species to species, but usually involve calling. Males try to attract a female to a suitable nest site and may use special courtship flights, calls and food offerings.
  • Owls are monogamous – either seasonally or for life. Barn owls are one species that mates for life. They may not be the smartest birds, but they know true love when they see it. Perhaps a plush barn owl toy would make a better Valentine’s Day gift than a teddy bear.
  • Great horned owls start breeding as early as December. Their mating call “hoot” can be heard just before the sun goes down. During mating season, owl hoots will increase. Males use their hoots like GPS in order to locate females.
Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

Here are some owls that can be found in the Credit River watershed:

  • Great horned owl – found all year round common and will breed in urban and rural areas
  • Eastern screech owl – found all year round and will breed in urban and rural areas
  • Long-eared owl – found all year round but sightings are more common in winter
  • Snowy owl – found in winter
  • Barred owl – found in winter and not common
  • Short-eared owl – found in winter and not common
  • Northern saw-whet owl – found in winter and not common
  • Great gray owl, boreal owl and northern hawk owl – very uncommon in the Credit River watershed

February can be a real hoot! Visit a nearby conservation area and keep your eyes and ears open for owls.

Comments (1)

  1. When we first moved to the Caledon East area so many years ago, and before the estate development on the Peel Plain south of the village, my husband and I were playing hockey on a pond, when a saw-whet owl swooped down to try and grab the puck! We were so happily surprised to experience this.

    Last winter we were lucky enough to spot a barred owl on a sideroad around 8 pm. It was beautiful.

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