Ewok, the eastern screech owl, is a permanent resident at the SNC due to an eye injury that would prevent him from thriving in the wild. He is a fully grown eastern screech owl, even though their small size leads many to believe that they are juveniles.
The interesting coloring of their feathers is camouflage adapted to blend in with the base of trees.
And yes, we name all of the Eastern Screech Owls we care for after Star Wars.
Here’s Kotori the Great Horned Owl, an education bird from Hawkwatch International, showing off his amazing head-turning skills. Contrary to popular belief, owls can’t turn their heads ALL the way around, but many species can manage an incredibly impressive 270 degrees in each direction.
They’re adapted to do this because unlike humans, owls can’t turn just their eyes to look at something. Their eyes – which are huge in relation to their body size and help them with things like their excellent night vision – are actually kind of tube-shaped and are fixed in their skulls, so if they want to look at something they have to turn their whole head. They have about twice as many vertebrae as we do, and the physiology of their necks and spines have all sorts of special adaptations that allow them to turn their heads so far without cutting off their own blood supply.
Hawkwatch does a ton of very important work for raptor conservation, including monitoring migrations, setting up and maintaining nest boxes, banding and studying birds, and a variety of education programs for the public, which is mostly what I help with. If you enjoy my raptor posts, please consider following @hawkwatch on instagram (they post beautiful photos, you won’t regret it :D), and visit hawkwatch.org to sign up for the email newsletter or make a donation to help keep these kids supplied with mice. :D