Barred Owl Ears

Barred owls (Strix varia) are mainly nocturnal. They do most of their hunting at dusk and dawn. In addition to having eyes adapted to see in the dark, barred owl ears also aid in locating prey.

Barred owl ears are located on the side of the head just behind the facial disc. The facial disc aids in funneling sound toward the ears. They do not have ear tufts, rather the feathers are smooth over the ear. Barred owl ears take up a large part of the side of the face. One ear is larger than the other and the ears are asymmetrical with the right ear higher than the left. The asymmetry and ear size aid in triangulation to locate the source of the sound. There is a flap covering each ear opening, the operculum. The operculum can close out unwanted sounds and perhaps also has a function in funneling sound into the ear. Barred owl eyes are very large and take up much of the skull. In the photograph the greyish structure seen inside the ear is the back of the eyeball. That the rear of the eyeball of a barred owl can be seen when the operculum is opened was most interesting to me.

This beautiful barred owl lives at Badger Run Wildlife Rehabilitation near Klamath Falls OR.

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2 Responses to Barred Owl Ears

  1. Lin Erickson says:

    What a beautiful bird‼️ How did you ever get the photo of the ear/back of the eyeball⁉️

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