Barn owls hunt in daylight, as do short-eared owls. Have you never seen film of barn owls on TV, hunting across fields, then stopping and hovering, before dropping on their prey? I’ve actually watched them do it in the wild.
They can’t keep up a sustained hover, like kestrels can, but they can hover for twenty or thirty seconds, while sighting on the target.
Compared to most birds Barn Owls have a very low wing loading (large wings supporting a lightweight body) this means they are able to fly very slowly without stalling and hover in only the slightest lift (rising air). Slow flight gives the birds ample time to locate and pinpoint prey on the ground below, and the low wing loading enables them to pass through the air very gently and hover with minimal effort. The owls’ feathers are very soft – another adaptation for quiet flight. The flight feathers are covered in a layer of tiny hairs that trap air within the feather surface and the foremost wing feather (the tenth primary) also has a row of tiny hooks that help to deaden the sound of air hitting the wings’ leading edge. Almost-silent flight enables the birds to hear the tiny sounds produced by their small mammal prey and approach them undetected.
Posted 4 years ago
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