Overview

Brief Summary

There are over 200 species of owls distributed across all continents except Antarctica. Their relatively large heads, forward-facing eyes, and upright perching posture are familiar characteristics. The fact that each foot has two toes pointing forward and two toes pointing back may not be so well known. Almost all owls are primarily nocturnal, that is, they are most active at night.  They primarily eat small birds, mammals, and reptiles and thus are considered "birds of prey." Owls have large eyes and very sensitive ears, which help them hunt at night.  Owls cannot move their eyes. Instead, they turn their heads to look around. Some owls, such as Barn Owls, have assymetrical ears and a disk of feathers on their faces that helps them direct and perceive sounds differently in their left and right ears. This enables them to locate the source of sounds more accurately.  The ear tufts of some owl species don't seem to be important for hearing; they are just used for visual communication. Most owls have softly-fringed feathers at the ends of their wings that let them fly silently. This helps owls sneak up on their prey.  

  • König, C, F. Weick, and J-H Becking. 1999. Owls: A guide to owls of the world. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Velvez, S. Brief summary: Strigiformes. Encyclopedia of Life. Life on Earth project. http://eol.org/data_objects/19616467
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There are over 200 species of owl. Owls can see and hear very well, which helps them hunt at night. But owls cannot move their eyes. Instead, they turn their heads to look around. Most owls have special feathers at the ends of their wings that let them fly silently. This helps owls sneak up on their prey.

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Ecology

Associations

Animal / vector
Capillaria hepatica is spread by Strigiformes

Animal / dung/debris feeder
larva of Geotrupes pyrenaeus feeds on dung/debris pellet of Strigiformes
Other: unusual host/prey

Animal / dung/debris feeder
colony of Gymnascella hyalinospora feeds on dung/debris pellet of Strigiformes

Plant / resting place / within
larva of Hydrotaea basdeni may be found in nest of Strigiformes

Animal / dung/debris feeder
ascoma of Onygena corvina feeds on dung/debris pellet of Strigiformes
Other: major host/prey

Animal / dung/debris feeder
superficial, scattered or gregarious cleistothecium of Orbicula parietina feeds on dung/debris pellet of Strigiformes
Other: unusual host/prey

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Animal / parasite / ectoparasite
imago of Ornithomya avicularia ectoparasitises Strigiformes

Animal / dung/debris feeder
colony of Scopulariopsis anamorph of Scopulariopsis candida feeds on dung/debris pellet of Strigiformes

Animal / parasite / endoparasite
usually solitary tapeworm of Taenia taeniaeformis endoparasitises small intestine of Strigiformes

Animal / dung/debris feeder
larva of Trox perlatus feeds on dung/debris pellet of Strigiformes

Animal / dung/debris feeder
Trox scaber feeds on dung/debris prey debris of nest of Strigiformes
Other: major host/prey

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Known prey organisms

Strigiformes preys on:
Oligochaeta
Arvicolinae
Sciurognathi
Geomyidae
Marmota
Tamias
Spermophilus
Peromyscus maniculatus
Mustelinae
Anseriformes
Sciuridae
Ambystoma annulatum
Thamnophis butleri
Egretta tricolor
Actitis macularia
Zenaida asiatica
Otus asio
Chordeiles minor
Amazilia tzacatl
Picoides scalaris
Hirundo rustica
Agelaius phoeniceus
Passer domesticus
Corvus corax
Didelphis virginiana
Sorex cinereus
Sorex dispar
Sorex merriami
Blarina brevicauda
Blarina carolinensis
Blarina hylophaga
Neurotrichus gibbsii
Myotis austroriparius
Myotis grisescens
Eptesicus fuscus
Lasiurus seminolus
Nycticeius humeralis
Pipistrellus hesperus
Pteropus samoensis
Lepus capensis
Sylvilagus floridanus
Sylvilagus nuttallii
Glaucomys sabrinus
Glaucomys volans
Sciurus niger
Ammospermophilus leucurus
Tamias alpinus
Tamias striatus
Dipodomys californicus
Dipodomys compactus
Dipodomys deserti
Dipodomys microps
Perognathus fasciatus
Peromyscus leucopus
Peromyscus gossypinus
Peromyscus boylii
Peromyscus polionotus
Peromyscus truei
Microtus pennsylvanicus
Microtus ochrogaster
Reithrodontomys megalotis
Mus musculus
Onychomys arenicola
Zapus princeps
Mustela nivalis
Mustela frenata
Procyon lotor
Felis silvestris
Chaetodipus formosus
Lemmiscus curtatus
Chaetodipus baileyi
Microcebus rufus
Eulemur rubriventer
Avahi laniger
Arctocebus calabarensis
Leontopithecus chrysopygus
Saguinus nigricollis
Callicebus personatus
Macaca sylvanus
Miopithecus talapoin
Microcavia australis
Elephantulus myurus
Elephantulus rufescens
Notomys alexis
Gymnobelideus leadbeateri
Conepatus chinga
Mazama gouazoupira
Neotragus moschatus
Raphicerus sharpei
Ratufa indica
Myopus schisticolor
Meriones crassus
Tatera indica
Akodon cursor
Solenodon cubanus
Hemiechinus aethiopicus
Sorex araneus
Miniopterus australis
Hipposideros diadema
Eidolon helvum
Epomophorus gambianus
Hypsignathus monstrosus
Taphozous melanopogon
Megaderma lyra
Diaemus youngi
Natalus lepidus

Based on studies in:
England: Oxfordshire, Wytham Wood (Forest)
USA: Montana (Tundra)
USA: Alaska, Barrow (Tundra)
USA: Alaska (Tundra)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • J. Brown, The structure and function of the tundra ecosystem, U.S. Tundra Biome 1971 Progress Rept. 1 (1971).
  • J. Brown, Ecological investigations of the Tundra biome in the Prudhoe Bay Region, Alaska, Special Report, no. 2, Biol. Pap. Univ. Alaska (1975), from p. xiv.
  • G. C. Varley, The concept of energy flow applied to a woodland community. In: Animal Populations in Relation to Their Food Resources, A. Watson, Ed. (Blackwell Scientific, Oxford, England, 1970), pp. 389-401, from p. 389.
  • D. L. Pattie and N. A. M. Verbeek, Alpine birds of the Beartooth Mountains, Condor 68:167-176 (1966); Alpine mammals of the Beartooth Mountains, Northwest Sci. 41(3):110-117 (1967).
  • Myers, P., R. Espinosa, C. S. Parr, T. Jones, G. S. Hammond, and T. A. Dewey. 2006. The Animal Diversity Web (online). Accessed February 16, 2011 at http://animaldiversity.org. http://www.animaldiversity.org
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
                                        
Specimen Records:737Public Records:343
Specimens with Sequences:538Public Species:52
Specimens with Barcodes:529Public BINs:76
Species:90         
Species With Barcodes:75         
          
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Barcode data

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Locations of barcode samples

Collection Sites: world map showing specimen collection locations for Strigiformes

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