Creature Feature

Creature Feature – Whooo Goes There?

Posted by  //  October 24, 2022  //  Articles, Creature Feature

Along with bats and black cats, owls are among Halloween’s most iconic animals.  With huge, glaring eyes, nocturnal behaviors and eerie vocalizations, it’s easy to see why owls have been featured in creepy folklore for centuries.  One tale claims that an owl will wring its own neck trying to watch you run in circles around a tree where it is perched.  Fact or fiction?

Unlike most other animals that use their eyes to track a moving object, owls must turn their necks to keep an object in sight because their eyes are fixed in their sockets; and while owls can’t turn their heads in a complete circle, they can rotate them up to 270 degrees without causing any internal damage.  This amazing feat is possible because their tissue and blood vessels are very flexible.  They also have “backup arteries” that kick in when blood vessels get closed off by rapid rotation.  As well, their heads are connected by one socket pivot (humans have two, limiting our ability to twist).  Furthermore, owls have lots of vertebrae in their neck and spine, allowing for a wide range of motion and the ability to look behind them.

So, should you choose to run in circles around a tree where an owl resides, you might get dizzy…but the owl will be just fine!  HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Article & photo by Margie Manthey

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