Owls   Dec 18, 2007   2:00/1:00 MT/PT
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Owl Glossary
adaptation A change in structure, function, or behavior in which a species or individual improves its chance of survival in a specific environment
asymmetrical Not identical on both sides of a center line.
bird of prey Carnivorous bird (hawk, falcon, eagle, etc.) that kills and eats small mammals and other birds.
branching Young owlets before they are ready to leave their parents care will climb around on tree trunks and branches before they can fly.
camouflage  Something, that makes an animal, person, building etc. difficult for enemies to see. To blend in against the background.
carnivore An animal that eats other animals (meat.)
crepuscular Active during twilight.
defensive posture This posture is most often used by young owls that are not ready to fly. When threatened the owl will fluff up its feathers making it look twice as big. To further increase its size, the bird will raise its wings over its back like a large fan and spread its tail feathers.
diurnal Usually active in the daytime.
ear-tuft A tuft of feathers above the eyes of some owls and other birds, causing them to look larger and helps them blend in with surrounding foliage.
erect posture  If disturbed, an owl will stretch themselves as tall as they can with their ear tufts standing straight up. They will also close their eyes until they are only slits. Standing perfectly still, they blend almost completely into the branches trying to fool possible enemies.
facial disk Cup-shaped depressions that give the face a heart shape. Each facial disk directs light into the eyes and sound into the ears giving the owl the ability to hunt for its prey.
habitat  A habitat is the place where a plant or an animal calls home.
incubation  The act of warming eggs in order to hatch them, as by a bird sitting upon a clutch of eggs in a nest.

irruption

 Occurs when a large number of a species move to an area where they are not commonly found in large numbers, often in response to drought, rainfall or other environmental changes.
migration Usually seasonal, migration is the movement of all or part of a population of animals.
Minerva  In Greek degends, Minerva is known as the daughter of Jupiter and as the goddess of wisdom, medicine, the arts, dyeing, science and trade, and also of war.
nestlings  Until a baby bird is about 3 weeks old, it is considered to be a nestling
nocturnal An animal that is active at night.
Ornithologist This is a person who studies birds and bird behaviors.
owlet This refers to a young owl;
pellet Owls do not have teeth, and eat their food whole. They rip and tear their meals up instead of chewing. After they digest their food they regurgitate or spit up a ball of the harder materials that are not digestible. These balls are known as pellets.
Pallas Athene Often referred to as Zeus' favorite child. Pallas Athene is described as the Greek goddess of wisdom, however in most Greek legends she is described as the patron of household arts and crafts like spinning, weaving and textiles.
plumage
The feathers on a bird. e.g. The owl's plumage is beautiful.
predator An animal that lives by preying on other animals.
prey An animal that is hunted or seized for food by a predator.
raptor A carnivorous (meat-eating) bird. All raptors have keen eyesight, sharp talons and a hooked beak.
rod cells  Rod cells are responsible for helping to see in low-light situations.
rufous Reddish; tinged with red; brownish red.
Strigidae This family of owls is also known as "true" owls. This is the larger of the two families of owls.
talon The claw of an animal - especially a bird of prey.
tapetum lucidum This is also called "eyeshine." When you see an animals eyes caught in a flashlight or the headlights of your car and you see the bright reflection - this is because of the tapetum lucidum. In Latin, this means "bright carpet." This "eyeshine" is due to a reflecting layer immediately behind the retina of the eye of many animals. sThis increases the quantity of light caught by the retina and improves vision in low light conditions. This is usually found in nocturnal animals with good night vision.
territory

An area occupied more or less exclusively by an animal or group.

visual field Total area where objects can be seen in the peripheral vision while the eye is focused on a central point.
Tytonidae One of two families of owls, the other being the typical owls, Strigidae. This family of owls are medium to large sized owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. Includes the common barn owl.
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