Owls of Nevada County

On silent wings these nocturnal hunters take prey by surprise. The only time you’ll hear an owl is if it’s hooting – calling to a mate, declaring territory of checking on young.

They range in size from the tiny six-inch Northern Pygmy-Owl to the twenty-six-inch Great Grey Owl.

Inviting them into your space (if you don’t have chickens or other small critters they’d consider eating) is an ideal way to naturally deal with rodents. *See Owl Box construction under Resources.

Great Grey Owl – Photo Credit – Arne List

There are over 200 owl species on Earth. Owls live on almost every continent.
Below is a list of owl species that can be found in Nevada County. (Each listing links to a species detail page.)

Barn Owl
Flammulated Owl (Rare in Nevada County)
Western Screech-Owl
Great Horned Owl
Northern Pygmy-Owl
Barred Owl
Burrowing Owl
California Spotted Owl
Great Gray Owl
Long-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl

Diet

Burrowing Owl – Photo Credit – Becky Matsubara

  • nocturnal insects
  • beetles
  • crickets
  • grasshoppers
  • small mammals
  • birds, amphibians
  • reptile
  • fish
  • other invertebrates

During the breeding season (March – August), a Barn Owl pair may catch up to seventy pounds of rodents!

Flammulated Owl chick – Photo Credit – Dave Menke, USFWS

 

 

via GIPHY

Habitat

Adaptable to many types of habitats, owls live in forests, meadows, grasslands, in the ground and in man-made structures.

Stealthy Owl Adaptations

An owl’s head is its superpower. It’s designed like a satellite dish funneling sound toward the ears. Owl hearing is ten-times better than humans. 

Its eyes take up a large percentage of its body weight. Owl eyes have specialized rods that help them see in low-light conditions.

Although an owl can’t turn its head in a complete circle, with vertebrae and arteries designed for the motion, they can turn it almost all way backward in either direction.

Barn Owl Beauty Spots

Barn owl females with many spots attract more mates. The spots may represent good health in parasite and disease resistance. They may also inspire males to help more with nesting and feeding owlets.

 

Species Interaction – Spotted Owls breeding with Barred Owls

Resources

 

Audubon – Owling California

Barn Owl Trust- Barn Owl Boxes for Trees

HGTV – How to Attract Owls to Your Yard

Place boxes in trees 10-12 feet from the ground on the property perimeter where leavings will not be a problem.

Click on image to see more Life on the Creek art

The Monterey Regional Waste Management District Barn Owl Project

NPR – Scientists Study Barn Owls to Understand Why People with ADHD Struggle to Focus

“We think we have the beginnings of an answer,” says Shreesh Mysore, an assistant professor who oversees the owl lab at Hopkins. The answer, he says, appears to involve an ancient brain area with special cells that tell us what to ignore.”

Science Daily – Scientists explain how bird can rotate its head without cutting off blood supply to brain

Using Owls to Control Rodents (in Napa Valley)

Wikipedia – True Owl

Click on image to see more Life on the Creek art

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