Thursday, November 17, 2011

White-Faced Scops Owl

When I took these photos, I could not remember what kind of owl he was, so I searched for images on Google and the Scops Owl was the closest I came. I wrote to the Raptor Conservancy and they confirmed my identification. Here is what they wrote:

"The owl is a 1-year old male, white-faced scops owl. He was hatched and raised in New York State, but is a native to South Africa. There is an amazing amount of personality packed into the little guy; he is very aware of what is going on around him."

My thanks to the Conservancy for their quick reply.

This is my third owl post with pictures I took last Saturday. If you missed the others and would like to take a look you can see them here and here.

So, although this little bird had not been injured physically, I learned a long time ago that those birds kept in captivity or raised as a pet, are so imprinted with humans that it would be impossible for them to fend for themselves if released, as happens with any wildlife of course. I am still not sure if that is the case with this little fellow however as I don't know his full story.

All birds have a second eyelid that cleans and protects their eyes. It is called the nictitating membrane. Owls actually have three eyelids. They have a normal upper and lower eyelid, the upper closing when the owl blinks, and the lower closing up when the Owl is asleep. The third eyelid is the nictitating membrane, and is a thin layer of tissue that closes diagonally across the eye, from the inside to the outside. This cleans and protects the surface of the eye. Owls and hawks have large eyes that protrude and need constant cleaning. Any debris or dust blowing by will stick to the moist surface of the eye.

If you enlarge the collage of three photos above, you can see this membrane in a couple of them. I found some of this information on a great nature blog while trying to find information on the subject. It is called called 'All of Nature'. You can see the post I was reading here.

Of all an Owl's features, perhaps the most striking is its eyes. Large and forward facing, they may account for one to five percent of the Owl's body weight, depending on the species. The forward facing aspect of the eyes that give an Owl its 'wise' appearance, also give it a wide range of 'binocular' vision (seeing an object with both eyes at the same time). This means the owl can see objects in three dimensions (height, width, and depth), and can judge distances in a similar way to humans. The field of view for an owl is about 110 degrees, with about 70 degrees being 'binocular' vision. By comparison, humans have a field of view that covers 180 degrees, with 140 degrees being 'binocular'.

He was very cute. It was a little awkward getting to him because he had been placed on a branch not as easily accessible as the Screech Owl before him. Not a problem for most, only a few more feet into the trees but lots of fallen branches and wet leaves covering hidden, broken off ankle twisters and since my last bad sprain I am a bit nervous of uneven ground. But as I usually am when I see something I really want to take a photo of, I'll go pretty much anywhere and the nice thing about the shoot was that the two ladies wanted us to have as natural a background for our photographs as possible, which I was very grateful for. I have never actually seen an owl in their natural habitat.

I had been ankle deep in wet leaves, lots of overhanging vines and branches, and when one of the other group members came up behind me and said, "Excuse me but you have a spider on the back of your coat, may I remove it?" I answered calmly, "Oh please do!" After thanking the gentleman I looked at his hand and on it was the biggest daddy-long-legs I had ever seen. No it didn't phase me, 20 years ago it might have. However, here we are 20 years ahead of the scared little namby-pamby and this thought crossed my mind. I wished I had my macro lens to take its photo, but that was also in the boot of the car and I wasn't going back again to retrieve it.

Attention span diverted momentarily, I was instantly back to my little owl. I might have mentioned this before, that I can turn into a laser and become extremely focused and he was most definitely what I was focused on. I wended my way carefully towards him but not really caring what landed on me, and after 20 minutes or so I came away hoping that I had at least a few decent photos to show for my trouble.

This is the generalized anatomy of the owl. I found it online.

25 comments:

The Elephant's Child said...

They are incredible birds. Megathanks.

ascu75 aka Don said...

sounds like a great place. I never knew allthat about owls eyes, as they say you learn something everyday. Have a good day Denise. XXX Don

Janet said...

He is a beauty- and what incredible eyes he has ! great shots Denise x

Linda Reeder said...

What an interesting little owl. the tufts on it's head and the feathered beak are so unusual.

Sunray Gardens said...

Those are some wonderful photos. Owls are a combination of lovely yet strange looking.
Cher Sunray Gardens

Valerie said...

Thank you for researching this lovely owl. As always you provided a really interesting post.

KaHolly said...

Such an opportunity, for us all!! Thank you for the incredible pictures and all the information.

Roy said...

Another lovely bird Denise.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Very interesting, Denise... Thanks for all of the great info about owls... I had no idea they have 3 eyelids.... I can understand the need for it though...

I've enjoyed all of your Owl posts. Thanks so much.
Hugs,
Betsy

Sharon said...

Aww, he is very cute! A very interesting post and some great photos! Thanks!

grammie g said...

HI Denise...I love all your Owl post ..they are such interesting creature of the night!!
You got to love the Owls..they have such great faces on them ; }
Thanks for your seewt comment on my post!!
Grace

Mama-Bug said...

Beautiful little owl! Wonderful info on their eyes.

gigihawaii said...

Thanks for showing his back, which is a beautiful shade of blue, unlike his front. Enjoyed this post, Denise!

lina@home sweet home said...

Owls have amazing eyes...

NatureFootstep said...

this one looks a bit mean. :) But I love it.

Would you like to join my NF Winged meme with it? It is coming up now.

http://nfmemes.blogspot.com/

eileeninmd said...

Denise, awesome photos of this cute owl. I have never heard of this owl. It is a small one. I would like to visit this conservancy.

Marie said...

This is a wonderful post, Denise! I absolutely LOVE the photos you were able to get of this amazing raptor! You gave us some great info too, and I appreciate it. It's so much fun to learn new things on the blogs! AMAZING!!!!!

Diane AZ said...

I enjoyed your pictures and information. Handsome owl!

Pauline said...

Thanks for such an interest post.. I had no idea they have 3 eyelids.... I love owls, they are the only nightsounds I hear. I think of them as watching over me and calling "alls well" through the night.

imac said...

Owls are most elegant

Kay said...

Wow! Awesome! Your header is really amazing! Those eyes just really grab you.

Debbie said...

incredible photo's, soooo much detail and beauty.....and those eyes, wow!!

i enjoyed all the information as well!!

Míriam Luiza said...

Quantas fotos incríveis deste pássaro!

Kathy said...

Your last two photos are spectacular. Love the color of the autumn leaves in the background, It made the owl really stand out.

Kathiesbirds said...

Lovely and informative post! I think you are in love with owls! You are very wise! ;-)