(TMU) – Owls are mysterious and interesting birds. These nocturnal birds of prey hunt small mammals, other birds and insects. They are seldom seen during the day when they are resting, usually in trees where their feathers offer excellent camouflage. At night, you may hear their distinctive hooting call which can travel for several miles. Their binocular vision, binaural hearing, sharp talons and feathers, adapted for silent flight, provides them with a great advantage when hunting.
The birds of the night were often referred to in the folklore, myths and legends of many cultures and were considered as symbols of wisdom and good fortune – or sometimes the opposite – omens of bad luck or death, all depending on where in the world you find yourself. Unfortunately, the negative beliefs often led to owls being killed to ward off ‘evil’.
Currently, the Barn Owl and the Northern Spotted Owl are on the endangered species list, with loss of their natural habitats playing a major role, as with most endangered species.
Should you happen to come across an owl having a nap, it is definitely best to let sleeping owls lie, even when they are lying face down. It’s surely a surprising sight to behold, and something most people have seemingly just become aware of – thanks to social media.
Journalist Mark Rees took the internet by storm with a photo he tweeted with the explanation that baby owls sleep face down because their heads are too heavy for their bodies. The tweet received over 142K likes, and from there, the series quickly shot to Internet stardom on social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Imgur, Reddit.
A story of two Barred Owlets who had fallen out of their nest, published by the National Audubon Society, a non-profit environmental organization, proved the photographs Rees tweeted to be the real deal.
Under the watchful eye of their mother, the rescued babies were put back into the tree and the rescuers observed their recovery.
“Keeping their talons tightly gripped on a branch, the owlets lay down on their stomachs, turned their heads to the side, and fell asleep. Their naps are short, and when they are asleep, they do not like to be awakened, even to be fed,” the article said.
Owls, even baby owls, have ‘magic’, in this instance it’s their back toe, called the hallux, which they use to stay secure in the tree while sleeping. “The hallux will not open or let go until the bird bends its leg.”
Unfortunately, owlets, even before they can fly, like to start exploring their surroundings and may end up on the ground. Should you happen upon an owlet sleeping on the ground, leave it be and contact your local animal rescue center for help.