Hmmm…It Doesn’t Look Like an Owl

by Beth | More Than Oregano

Great Horned Owl skull, watercolor, 7 x 7 Stonehenge journal ©Beth Billstrom

Amazingly enough the above illustration is of a great horned owl.  You may not recognize it as an owl due to the protruding eye socket and the large bony beak structure.  When I first saw this skull I was confused, too.  Largely because I had always thought that owls’ eyes were round like marbles.  The cylinder type of eye sockets didn’t seem right.  However, I learned that owls don’t have globular eyes, they have tubular eyes.  Tubular eyes weigh less and take up less space, yet, they don’t reduce the overall size of the viewed image.

What tubular eyes can’t do is swivel or rotate in the way a human eye can.  Tubular eyes also limit peripheral vision.  Therefore, while an owl’s eyes may be larger than the eyes of most birds, its actual field of vision is smaller.  However, owls’ make up for a limited field of view by having heads which rotate 280 degrees.   While owls can’t see very wide in a single glance, they can quickly “spin” their heads to get a global view around themselves.   Not a bad trade-off.

But what about that beak?  It’s so large.  Check back tomorrow.  I’ll let you know what I’ve learned about that huge beak and why it really does belong to an owl…..

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