These Owl Facts Are a Real Hoot

Owls are one of the most mysterious birds we see in Illinois. This is partly because they are nocturnal, which means they are usually only active at night, when we are sleeping.

Snowy owl (Photo via Shutterstock)

Will County is home to eight different types of owls: the great horned owl, the barn owl, the eastern screech owl, the snowy owl, the barred owl, the long-eared owl, the short-eared owl and the northern saw-whet owl.


Many birds that live in Illinois migrate south for the winter, because it is warmer here and there is more food. However, most of the owls in our area do not migrate. They stay in Illinois all year long.


Did you know?

  • Baby owls are called owlets. A group of owls is called a parliament, a study or a wisdom.

  • Hooting is not the only sound owls make. The great horned owl is known for its hoots, but owls also screech, whistle, hoot and even bark.

  • Owls are raptors, which is a bird that hunts other animals. Other kinds of raptors include hawks and eagles.

  • Raptors, including owls, have the best vision in the entire animal kingdom. Owls cannot see in total darkness but can still see in very dim light.

  • Owls are very good hunters. They have an excellent sense of smell, hearing and vision to help them find prey, or animals to eat.

  • Owls can turn their heads up to 270 degrees, which is almost all the way around. This helps them hunt, because their eyes only see straight ahead.

  • Owls eat many kinds of food, including fish, insects and small mammals, such as rodents. Great horned owls even eat skunks.

  • Owls have three sets of eyelids. One set is for blinking, one set is for sleeping and one set protects their eyes.

  • Owls eat their food in very big pieces. They can’t digest all of what they eat, like the feathers and bones of their prey. What they can’t digest is saved and compressed into a pellet, which they remove from their mouths. You can dissect an owl pellet for clues about what is has eaten.

  • Owls make almost no noise when they fly, which helps them hunt. They are able to fly quietly because they have fringe on their outer wings.