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Barred owls are large owls with round heads and NO ear tufts. They are brownish-gray with brown and white bars across their chest. (Thatâ€™s why theyâ€™re called "barred" owls.) Their legs are covered with feathers. The barred owlsâ€™ eyes are dark brown, while most other owls have yellow eyes. Their beaks are sharp, but very small, so they are almost covered up by facial feathers. Owls can see very well at night, but they can also see during the day. They have a special inner eyelid which blocks bright sunlight - owl sunglasses! Most birds have eyes on their sides of their head. This helps them to see sideways and backwards. Owls, however, have both eyes in the front. This gives them good depth perception (helps them to tell how far away something is). Unfortunately, it means they canâ€™t see sideways or backwards. To deal with this, owls can turn their head ALMOST all the way around. But they canâ€™t spin their head in a full circle; their head would twist off! Owl ears are just holes on the sides of their head covered with feathers. These holes are higher on one side than the other. This helps the owl tell if a sound is coming from above or below. When you hear a sound, and you canâ€™t tell where itâ€™s coming from, donâ€™t you tilt your head to listen better? The owl doesnâ€™t have to tilt his head. His ears are tilted already! You also cup your hand over your ear to help you hear, right? Owls donâ€™t have hands, but they can fluff the feathers around their ear holes to make a little funnel, just like your hand. The ear tufts that some owls have are NOT ears. Theyâ€™re just feathers that might scare away predators. The barred owlsâ€™ sense of smell is probably not that strong. They even eat skunks.
FLIGHT & HUNTING: Barred owls are often out at night, dawn or dusk, but can be seen during the day. When hunting, they usually perch in a tree and watch and listen for prey. Then they swoop down and grab it with their talons (claws). Their toes are special. Normally, two go forward and two go back. This helps them get a good grip on their prey. But they can turn a back toe forward if they want. This may help them to hold on to a perch tree. Barred owls (like all owls) are carnivores (meat-eaters). They can eat mice, squirrels, foxes, rabbits, bats, small birds, other owls, snakes, lizards, fish, fiddler crabs, and bugs. Since they eat the whole animal (except for the wings of birds), they swallow a lot of fur and bones they canâ€™t digest. Owls will regurgitate (re-gir-ji-tate) or vomit pellets of fur and bones. If you find a pile of little furry balls under a tree, you have found an owlâ€™s perch tree or eating spot. If you pick the pellet apart, you can see the tiny bones and fur of the animals it has eaten. Barred owls like to sit on trees which have small branches and moss to hide and camouflage them. When they fly, they flap their wings a lot, instead of soaring like a vulture. This is because they have special soft feathers. Soft feathers
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