Owls and barn owls are probably the best known nocturnal birds of prey in any corner of the planet. Although they share many similarities and sometimes even the same habitats, these birds of prey have many differences from each other. Can you tell the difference between an owl and an owl with the naked eye? On many occasions, both birds are referred to as owl or owl interchangeably, as in the case of the famous “owl” that accompanies Harry Potter, which, did you know that it is actually an owl?
The differences between owl and owl
The differences between owls and barn owls include both physical traits and behavioral characteristics of these amazing birds. In the following list you will find in detail the difference between owl and owl:
- Owls belong to the taxonomic family Strigidae, while owls are included within the family Tytonidae.
- Barn owls are not migratory birds , while some species of owls do migrate to habitats with more favorable climatic and resource conditions.
- Barn owls are quite elusive and difficult to see, while owls can be seen more easily in the forests and grasslands where they live.
- The structure of pellets that owls and owls generate after ingesting their live prey vary in their structure. Pellets are balls made up of animal remains that they have not been able to digest and that some carnivorous birds regurgitate.
Those commonly known as owls, include a wide variety of genera and species that are distributed throughout almost all the world’s ecosystems, except Antarctica, Greenland and some remote islands. On the other hand, the diversity of owls is much lower , since there are only two taxonomic genera and their species do not have such a wide distribution.
In addition, owls are very elusive birds, they live solitary in remote places that make it difficult to notice their presence, while owls are easier to see , as well as easily recognizable by the famous “uh-uh” sound that they emit while they are resting on the branches of the trees.
Physical traits that are differences between owl and owl
The eyes of owls have striking yellow or orange irises , while those of owls are a piercing deep black. Likewise, the fur of owls is usually dark , presenting shades of yellowish, reddish, brown and black tones; while owls tend to be lighter shades (white, gray and brown).
Another of the main morphological characteristics in which both birds differ is the presence of a set of raised short feathers that owls present on the sides of the head. These resemble possible ears, although the true ears are located on the sides of the eyes. Barn owls, on the other hand, lack the feathers raised on their heads.
Despite the differences between owls and owls discussed in the previous section, these nocturnal raptors also share some traits. These are the main similarities between owl and owl:
- They have a highly developed sense of hearing, allowing these birds of prey to be able to distinguish their prey in the silence of the night.
- The rounded and flattened head shape, as well as the small and strong beak of owls and barn owls, allow them to be more agile and quiet when flying by allowing them to be more aerodynamic.
- Because the eyes of owls and owls lack mobility and are only able to stare straight ahead, these birds have the uncanny ability to turn their necks 270 degrees.
- They are considered the nocturnal birds of prey par excellence, feeding on mammals, other birds and even small fish and reptiles, always engulfing the live prey.
Hedwig, Harry Potter’s iconic “owl” is actually a snowy owl, also commonly called a great white owl , given the thick glossy white plumage it presents.
This majestic bird finds its natural habitat in the extensive tundra forests of the colder regions of the Asian, American and European continents. Through its white plumage, the snowy owl blends in with the snow that covers the forests and pastures of the tundra, stalking its prey. Here you can learn about What is mimicry and examples . In addition, the snowy owl stands out for the sexual dimorphism that the males and females of the species present, being the coloration of the plumage of the females, with stripes and brown spots, compared to the white plumage of the males, which have some brown spots. but very few compared to females.
With all this information, we could affirm that the famous Hedwig is a male snowy owl that, erroneously, is named as an owl. This happens because in history when they talk about magic mail they talk about sending or receiving it with owls but, really, they use owls and owls interchangeably for it. In fact, Hedwig is not the only species of owl to appear in history.