|by Marcia Malory|
The tawny owl's sensitive hearing and sight and its ability to move quickly and silently make it an extremely effective nocturnal predator.
This nighttime hunter can be found in forests throughout Eurasia.
Inside its skull lie two large, asymmetrical ears that are so sensitive that they can pinpoint the squeak of a running mouse.
Stiff, bristly feathers circling its face collect sounds and focus them on the ears.
Large eyes, forward-facing eyes enable the tawny owl to see in three dimensions and to judge distances accurately.
The tawny owl has the ability to its head in both directions, with a 360 degree range of vision. Thus, it can keep its body totally still while it focuses on its prey.
Velvet finishes on the tawny owl's feathers and a comblike fringe on the leading edge of its wing enable the owl to fly silently. Thus, the owl can hunt without being detected by its prey.
The tawny owl usually hunts by waiting on a branch until a prey animal passes below and then descends silently upon it.
It will grab the prey in its large, sharp talons. If the prey does not die immediately, the owl will bite it at the base of the skull.
The owl will then descend silently, grabbing its prey in its large, sharp talons.
If the prey does not die immediately, the owl may bite it at the base of the skull in order to kill it.
The tawny owl's diet consists mostly of rodents - rats, mice and voles. It will eat a variety of other small animals as well, including shrews, small birds, and worms.