There are over 200 different species of owl. Here we look at some of the most interesting, and the fascinating facts about them and their behaviour.
Egyptian Eagle Owl
This is a bird which is closely allied
to the great Eagle Owl of Europe, and the Virginian Eared Owl of America.
This fine bird measures some two feet in length, and looks much larger
than its real size, owing to the thick coating of feathers which it wears
in common with all true Owls, and the ear-like feather tufts on the top
of its head, which it can raise or depress at pleasure. Its piumage is
This bird has a special predilection for
deserted places and ruins. It is very plentiful in Egypt, where
the vast ruins are the only relics of a creed long passed away or modified
into other forms of religion, and its presence only intensifies rather
than diminishes the feeling of loneliness that oppresses the traveller
as he passes among the ruins.
European Eagle Owl
The European Eagle Owl has all the
habits of its Asiatic congener. It dwells in places far from human habiitations,
and during the day is hidden in deep and dark recess, its enormous eyes
not being able to endure the light of day. In the evening it issues from
its retreat, and begins its search after prey, which consists of various
birds, quadrupeds, reptiles, fish, and even insects when it can find nothing
On account of its comparatively large
dimensions, it is able to overcome even fully-grown hares and rabbits,
while lambs and young fawns occasionally fall victims to its voracity.
It seems never to chase any creature on the wing, but floats silently through
the air, its soft and downy plumage deadening the sound of its progress,
and.suddenly drops on the unsuspecting prey while it is on the ground.
The nest of this Owl is made in the crevices
of rocks, or in ruins, and is a very large one, composed of sticks and
twigs, lined with a tolerably large heap of dried herbage, the parent Owls
returning to the same spot year after year. Should it not be able to find
either a rock or a ruin, it contents itself with a hollow in the ground,
and there lays its eggs, which are generally two in number, though occasionally
a third egg is found. The Egyptian Eagle Owl does much the same thing,
burrowing in sand-banks, and retreating, if it fears danger, into the hollow
where its nest has been made.