True owl

True owl
Temporal range: Early Eocene to present
Eastern Screech Owl.jpg
Eastern screech owl
Scientific classification e
Leach, 1820

some 25, see text


Striginae sensu Sibley & Ahlquist

The true owls or typical owls (family Strigidae) are one of the two generally accepted families of owls, the other being the barn owls (Tytonidae). The Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy unites the Caprimulgiformes with the owl order; here, the typical owls are a subfamily Striginae. This is unsupported by more recent research (see Cypselomorphae for details), but the relationships of the owls in general are still unresolved. This large family comprises nearly 220 living species in 25 genera. The typical owls have a cosmopolitan distribution and are found on every continent except Antarctica.


Cross sectioned great grey owl specimen showing the extent of the body plumage, Zoological Museum, Copenhagen

While typical owls (hereafter referred to simply as owls) vary greatly in size, with the smallest species, the elf owl, being a hundredth the size of the largest, the Eurasian eagle-owl and Blakiston's fish owl, owls generally share an extremely similar body plan.[1] They tend to have large heads, short tails, cryptic plumage, and round facial discs around the eyes. The family is generally arboreal (with a few exceptions like the burrowing owl) and obtain their food on the wing. The wings are large, broad, rounded, and long. As is the case with most birds of prey, in many owl species females are larger than males.[2]

Because of their nocturnal habits, they tend not to exhibit sexual dimorphism in their plumage. The feathers are soft and the base of each is downy, allowing for silent flight. The toes and tarsi are feathered in some species, and more so in species at higher latitudes.[3] Numerous species of owls in the genus Glaucidium and the northern hawk-owl have eye patches on the backs of their heads, apparently to convince other birds they are being watched at all times. Numerous nocturnal species have ear-tufts, feathers on the sides of the head that are thought to have a camouflage function, breaking up the outline of a roosting bird. The feathers of the facial disc are arranged in order to increase sound delivered to the ears. Hearing in owls is highly sensitive and the ears are asymmetrical allowing the owl to localise a sound in multiple directions. In addition to hearing, owls have massive eyes relative to their body size. Contrary to popular belief, however, owls cannot see well in extreme dark and are able to see well in the day.[1]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Ware uile
العربية: بوم حقيقي
asturianu: Strigidae
azərbaycanca: Bayquşlar
беларуская: Савіныя
български: Совови
brezhoneg: Strigidae
català: Estrígid
Cebuano: Strigidae
čeština: Puštíkovití
davvisámegiella: Skuolffit
eesti: Kaklased
эрзянь: Корш
español: Strigidae
Esperanto: Strigedoj
euskara: Estrigido
français: Strigidae
Frysk: Ulefûgels
galego: Estríxidos
ГӀалгӀай: Совы
한국어: 올빼미과
հայերեն: Բվեր
hrvatski: Sove
interlingua: Strigidae
íslenska: Ugluætt
italiano: Strigidae
עברית: ינשופיים
кырык мары: Тымана йишвлӓ
Ladino: Kukuvaya
Latina: Strigidae
latviešu: Pūču dzimta
лезги: ТӀиб
lietuvių: Pelėdiniai
മലയാളം: നത്ത്
Bahasa Melayu: Strigidae
日本語: フクロウ科
Nordfriisk: Kadüülen
norsk nynorsk: Uglefamilien
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਅਸਲੀ ਉੱਲੂ
پنجابی: اصلی الو
português: Strigidae
română: Strigidae
русиньскый: Сововы
русский: Совиные
Simple English: True owl
slovenčina: Sovovité
slovenščina: Prave sove
српски / srpski: Праве сове
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Strigidae
suomi: Pöllöt
svenska: Ugglor
Tagalog: Strigidae
татарча/tatarça: Ябалак кошлар
Türkçe: Baykuşgiller
українська: Совові
Tiếng Việt: Họ Cú mèo
Winaray: Strigidae
中文: 鸱鸮科