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Owls: Glossary

A

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

B

birds 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

C

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
crepuscular
active during twilight

D

defensive posture
a posture most often used by young owls that are not ready to fly, used threatened
diurnal
usually active in the daytime

E

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
a posture used by owls to stretch themselves as tall as they can with their ear tufts standing straight up

F

facial disc
cup-shaped depressions that give the face a heart shape
flammulated
a species of owl known for its small size

G

gizzard
part of a bird's stomach that grinds food

H

habitat
place where a plant or an animal lives

I

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

M

migration
seasonal travel by a group of animals
Minerva
in Greek legends, daughter of Jupiter and is the goddess of wisdom, medicine, art, war, science and trade

N

nestlings
a baby bird before it is about 3 weeks old
nocturnal
an animal that is active at night

O

ornithologist
a person who studies birds and bird behaviors
owlet
a young owl

P

Pallas Athene
often referred to as Zeus' favorite child, Greek goddess of wisdom, also described as the patron of household arts and crafts like spinning, weaving and textiles
parliament
the group name for owls
pellet
after owls digest their food they regurgitate or spit up a ball of the harder materials that is not digestible known as pellets
plumage
the feathers on a bird
predator
an animal that lives by preying on other animals
prey
an animal that is hunted or seized for food by a predator

R

raptor
a carnivorous bird
rod cells
rod cells are responsible for helping to see in low-light situations
rufous
reddish; tinged with red; brownish red

T

talon
the claw of an animal - especially a bird of prey
tapetum lucidum
to a reflecting layer immediately behind the retina of the eye of many animals
territory
an area occupied by an animal or group where they live and hunt

V

visual field
total area where objects can be seen from left to right while the eye is focused on a central point
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