Five Fun Owl Facts

One fun part about this project is learning about the owls I draw, all the different species, the places they live, and the unique behaviors and characteristics. Here’s a little list of some interesting owl facts, illustrated with some of my past drawings.

1. Burrowing Owls catch food in a variety of ways including chasing it across the ground on foot. They will also swoop down from the air or a perch or catch prey in mid flight.

burrowing owl drawing

2. The Great Gray Owl’s scientific name, Strix nebulosa, means nebulous, clouded, or foggy. This owl is often described as ghostlike, it’s coloring camouflages it in the lichen covered trees of the northern boreal forests where it lives.

great gray owl drawing
3.  Great Gray Owls are the longest owl from head to tail, although the Great Horned Owl weighs more, and the Snowy Owl weighs about twice as much. Much of the Great Gray Owl’s bulk comes from its feathers which helps it survive in the cold forests of the north.

4. Owls that nest in tree cavities rely on reusing old nest holes created by woodpeckers. The small Northern-Pygmy Owl prefers Hairy Woodpecker nests. Woodpeckers are a keystone species that provide nesting cavities for many other species as well, including bluebirds, pine martens, squirrels, ducks, and other small birds and mammals.

owl pinecones art

5. Saguaro cacti provide nesting sites for many types of owls and birds. Elf Owls, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls, and Western Screech Owls will use old woodpecker holes in saguaros and Great Horned Owls may nest in the crook of the cacti. Nests in these cacti have the added benefit of protective spines.

owls coyotes desert drawing

Hope you enjoyed reading! If you want to check out some more interesting facts check out my previous post, 10 Fun Owl Facts.

2015 Owl Calendar

This year’s owl calendar is now up in the shop! All new illustrations from past years, plus some brand new illustrations that I will be featuring here on the blog over the next couple weeks.

2015 owl calendar

I always have fun selecting and drawing the different months. Have any favorites? I’m a little partial to July this year.

owl wall calendar 2015

You can find them in the shop here:

Illustrated Owl Chart

owl chart illustration

Whimsical Illustrated Owl Species Chart
13×19 Print:

This has been on my list to draw for a while now and I finally got around to it. It was a fun challenge figuring out how to portray and differentiate each owl. Not sure I can pick a favorite. I’m particularly happy with the great grey, screech, and northern hawk owl.

whimsical cartoon owls illustration

owls drawing

10 Fun Owl Facts

During my research and reading for this project I’ve learned a lot of things about owls. I thought I’d share some of the more interesting and quirky facts I’ve come across. So, here are 10 fun owl facts.

1. Elf owls are known to play dead when caught.

2. If spotted during the day Owls are often “mobbed” or followed and pestered by groups of smaller birds. Crows will mob Great Horned Owls, chickadees will mob Northern Pygmy Owls.

3. Northern Pygmy Owls have dark markings on the back of their head, a set of “false eyes” to confuse predators and groups of mobbing birds. Check out this video!
They can also easily be mistaken for a pine cone!

Northern Pygmy Owl. Photo by brodman’s 17 on Flickr

4. In Winter Short-eared Owls gather in large groups, these roosts can include up to 200 owls.

5. Owls’ ears are at different heights on its head enabling them to directionally pinpoint a sound. Great Grey and Northern Saw-Whet Owls are so good at this they can catch prey hidden under snow.

Great Grey Owl. Photo by Juan Pons

6. The “horns” or ear tufts on some owls aren’t really ears (or horns). They are feather tufts thought to be used for camouflage and silent communication.

7. Snowy Owls aggressively defend their nest sites, driving away Arctic Foxes and even Wolves by dive bombing. Geese and ducks are known to nest near Snowy Owls to take advantage of this, even though they are potential prey of the owls. It’s thought Snowies often don’t hunt near their nest sites.

8. Burrowing owlets will mimic a rattlesnake’s rattle to scare predators.

Burrowing Owl. Photo by Muriel on Flickr

9. Great Horned Owls are very adaptable. Their range covers the majority of North America, Central America, and parts of South America. They live in a wide variety of habitats, including deserts, suburbs, swamps, and northern Boreal forests.

Great Horned Owl. Photo by Ed Post on Flickr

10. Sometimes Owls will store extra food if there is an over abundance. In cold climates owls like the Northern Saw-Whet will sit on their leftovers to thaw it.

That’s it for now, hope you enjoyed them! Thanks to these photographers that allowed me to use these amazing owl photos!