The owl swoops majestically over its territory, nothing escaping its beady gaze: owls, like the great grey owl, feel most at home soaring silently through the dusky skies. It might sound like we’re stating the obvious, but actually the opposite is true: owls – like all birds -intrinsically dislike flying and, if at all possible, avoid all forms of airborne exertion.
They don’t want to put on an air show, they just want something to eat. “Even if they feel hungry, owls would still prefer to raid their supply store than go hunting,” explains owl aficionado Tanja Brandt. You see, this flying malarkey is energy sapping – if anything it will make them even more hungry. But this isn’t the only misconception drawn from the odd behaviour of the grey owl and friends.
Take the chap top right. An owl’s wink is the equivalent of our human blink reflex and has nothing to do with the sly transmission of a specific message. “Owls just couldn’t do that,” stresses Brandt. Our little owl, as the genus is called, is much more likely to be extremely relaxed, and is opening its beak nice and wide. Not to squawk at anybody, but to throw up some pellets – leftovers from its last meal that it is unable to digest. As this procedure is extremely tiring, the bird shuts one of its eyes. And would now like to be alone, please.