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Why do we love owls so much?

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Why do we love owls so much?

Post  Safari Maiden on Mon Sep 13, 2010 8:30 am

Extract from the Guardian.co.uk byMark Cocker:
From omens of death to wise, bespectacled creatures, these birds have become part of the British culture

What is it about owls that so captivates us? What has made them among the most popular, reproduced, documented and frequently referenced birds in British culture? The answer is simple. Owls inhabit the one landscape that we weak-sighted, day-loving primates still haven't mastered. Night-time.

These glorious birds loom at us out of the darkness, freighted with a rich sense of mystery and, at one time, with a touch of evil. Owls were once seen as dangerous omens and not even Victorian intellectuals could resist the superstition. John Ruskin once announced: "Whatever wise people may say of them, I at least have found the owl's cry always prophetic of mischief." Seeing a bird land on a particular roof was often taken as a sign of impending doom within.

The owl had more than its nocturnal lifestyle to confirm its status as death's messenger-in-chief. All of the British species have binocular vision and suggest, perhaps, what humans might look like were we ever reincarnated as birds. Throw in their absolute silence in flight, the ghostly pale of the barn owl, their predatory habits, their eerie shrieking or moaning vocalisations, which cut through the darkness like an uncloaked dagger, and you have a set of creatures ready-made to inhabit our most cherished nightmares.

Even if 150 years of hard natural science and decades of electrified street light have helped to drain the owl of much of its menace, note how the stock metaphor for danger in television dramas is still either the sound or the brief glimpse of an owl landing on a tree just outside the scene of the crime. Over that same period owls have gradually been clasped tighter and tighter to the national bosom in the form of T-shirts, cushions and ornaments, Beatrix Potter's innocently blinking Old Brown or a score of wise-looking bespectacled owls in Disney cartoons. These birds are also the stars in Legend of the Guardians, a 3D animated film that hits cinemas next month.

Yet I think the real reason we cherish owls is that they have retained a slight frisson of danger. Of all widespread British birds, they are still the species we hear most – and where I live in Norfolk, it is nightly – but see the least. That glorious wavering disembodied song of the tawny owl still has an ability to raise the hairs on the backs of our necks. It reminds us as we lie in our beds that beyond the gutter's edge, over the rooftop, outside the penumbra of any streetlight, is a life and a beating heart that we can never quite know.
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Re: Why do we love owls so much?

Post  Laikipia on Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:05 am

They are great birds - and there is nothing better than hearing them in the dead of night What a Face (i say that because last night i think it must have been right outside which woke me up).

Owls are fascinating and it's a shame we dont get to see them that often.

Lai

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Re: Why do we love owls so much?

Post  whitestarling on Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:31 am

I quite agree Lai, it's a thrill to hear them at night. When we used to go in the camper to Crichieth at night you could hear Tawny Owls all around, and here where we a live I hear Barn Owls at night when I take Misty for her late walk
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Re: Why do we love owls so much?

Post  Safari Maiden on Tue Sep 14, 2010 9:04 pm

When we leave the bedroom window open a bit at night we here a screech but I do not have a clue which owl it is? Any idea online were I can hear them to find the one it might be?

SM
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Re: Why do we love owls so much?

Post  Laikipia on Wed Sep 15, 2010 8:01 am

RSPB website has bird sounds - haven't checked out the owls but might be a start.

Lai

http://www.rspb.org.uk/
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Re: Why do we love owls so much?

Post  Safari Maiden on Wed Sep 15, 2010 8:45 am

Thanks Lai. Off to try and find my owl I'll let you know what I come up with.

SM
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Re: Why do we love owls so much?

Post  Laikipia on Wed Sep 15, 2010 9:46 am

SM - i've just had a listen and our owl that we've been hearing is definitely a Tawny owl - great sounds!

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Re: Why do we love owls so much?

Post  whitestarling on Wed Sep 15, 2010 6:08 pm

I thought it may be a Tawny Owl from my visits to Cricieth I found this site last night. but havent had time to check through it SM

http://www.owlpages.com/sounds.php

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Re: Why do we love owls so much?

Post  Safari Maiden on Wed Sep 15, 2010 8:03 pm

Yeap from the sounds of it we have a Tawny Owl too!

Thanks for that

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he's behind you

Post  Eurasian Guy on Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:33 pm

they are quite commonly heard but seldom seen which all adds to the mistery



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Re: Why do we love owls so much?

Post  tigerburnie on Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:26 pm

Tawny Owls are at their most vocal just now,it's part of the territorial claims before next years breeding season.

If it wasn't so cold I'd be out myself,nice warm log fire won tonight.

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Re: Why do we love owls so much?

Post  littlewid on Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:00 am

TB or EG, how long before they mate do the owls stake their territory. For some silly reason I didn't imagine them staking territory,although saying that I thought they may breed in the same place every year but I may be wrong on that.

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Re: Why do we love owls so much?

Post  tigerburnie on Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:41 pm

They start in the Autumn,I think it's a lot to do with dispersing their youngsters,before the breeding season.Food and the type of habitat governs the density of the Owls,for example,smaller Little Owls are more densely packed where huge Snowys and Eagle Owls need miles of territory.They might have several nest sites within their territory and several roosting places too.

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Re: Why do we love owls so much?

Post  littlewid on Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:17 pm

Thank you for that TB, it makes a lot of sense. The owlets we were watching on the web cam were Eagle Owls and they have just fledged, it makes you wonder how far they have to go to be out of their parents territory, it must be a long flight for newly fledged owls. I suppose the smaller owls have it a little better as they are more densely populated.
I need to check this out as well because I am now wondering if Owls mate for life if they tend to stick to the same territory. There is so much I need to learn about owls apart from just loving them.

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Re: Why do we love owls so much?

Post  tigerburnie on Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:51 pm

Don't know about their life time together,but seemingly the same Owl can spend a long time in one area,only old age would see them moved out .Not quiet a Red Deer rutt,but seemingly the males do have some punch ups.
You aware I guess that the females are much bigger and stronger in Owls,becomes more obvious in the bigger species,same with diurnal predators too.

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Re: Why do we love owls so much?

Post  littlewid on Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:35 pm

Had a little search TB and it appears that most owls do mate for life but apparantly the Snowy Owl can have more than one mate. It's usually the death of one owl that leads to getting a new mate but if it's the male that has died whilst chicks are still in the nest, the female wont find another mate until the chicks, oops they are owlets really, have fledged.
Yes I knew the female owl was larger than the male, that does seem to happen in bird species doesn't it, although the male birds are usually more colourful than the females of the same species.
Can you or EG recommend a good owl book?

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big mummy bird

Post  Eurasian Guy on Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:03 am

Hi guy’s
Generally the bigger the bird the bigger the area is needed to get enough food to sustain life, when the parents have fed & taut the owlets all they need to they then see them as competition so they get chased away to make their own way & to find their own territory etc, I suspect much of the noise this time of the year is the older owls telling their own juvenile birds & other juvenile bids this area is taken. The problem with owls is their elusive nature which means often much is unknown or unproven.
Female birds frequently need go without food & hunt or forage less food for a while during the laying & hatching season so they need more in reserve hence their increased size.
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