The striped owl thrives in open grasslands, bushes, and savannas scattered from southern Mexico to northern Argentina. As typical of owls, the striped owl is a masterful night hunter, maximizing its nocturnal intelligence. The striped owl thrives on meat, hunting its prey in short and rapid dives.
The striped owl stands out for its significant ear-tufts, which are notably long. These ears are covered in black in a non-uniform order. The eye color ranges from cinnamon to brown, with the eyebrows predominantly white and brief. The striped owl’s facial disc is dull white, with a brownish tint while its beak is thoroughly black. The nape – just like the forehead – is dusky.
The owl is curiously beautiful – with a fiery look masking an incredible personality and lifestyle. Are you ready to learn some cool stuff about the striped owl? In this exposition, we will explore some 17 exciting striped owl facts you don’t want to miss.
Striped Owls Can Be Found up to 5,200 ft. From Sea Level
Striped owls can be found around the globe anywhere from sea level to 1600 meters altitude – and even above. Natural populations of striped owls are concentrated across Central to South America.
These owls are distributed from Panama to Southern Mexico to as far as Argentina to northern America. Therefore, you will find large swathes of striped owls in countries like Honduras, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Colombia, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago, and El Salvador.
Nonetheless, you will find very sparse populations of striped owls in the Amazon Basin.
Striped Owls are Famed for Their Large Ear Tufts
The prominence of their ear tufts stands these owls out. These blackish-brown ears are lengthy, featuring notable streaks. These dark brown streaks on the head also extend to the nape and crown of these owls. Its facial disk is covered in white, adorned with a notable black border. Its eye color is most dark brown and cinnamon.
Male Striped Owls Clap Their Wings to Attract Mates
When the breeding season starts, male stripped owls have the curious habits of clapping their wings as they fly to attract females. This season typically extends from August to March, where you would notice extensive vocalization from the male striped owl. During this breeding season, striped owls are mostly monogamous – sticking to one partner through the season.
It is an Expert Hunter at Night
The striped owl is a master of its craft when it comes to hunting at night. Leveraging its nocturnal capacities, its hunting is exquisite, thanks to its ability to hear clearly and incredible nighttime vision.
The striped owl does the majority of its hunting within dusk and dawn. Within this window, it scans the open country on low flights. When it picks out potential prey, it abruptly dives straight at the unfortunate victim. The prey most times is relatively immobilized due to relative nighttime inactiveness.
The striped owl hunts closer to the ground, where it sees and hears its prey better. In some cases, the striped owl may camp patiently on a perch, watching for out for unsuspecting prey. When it does find one, it drops rapidly on it before the victim can respond.
The Male Striped Owl Woos the Female with Food
The male striped owl is a smart fellow. It would attract its female counterpart for courtship with the offer of food. Call it strategic courtesy as the female that accepts the food tends to copulate with the male offering it.
The male striped owl attracts the female to a befitting nest site by offering it a prey it (male) caught. This is typically followed by mutual preening (when they perch closely) where both parties rub their respective facial discs and heads.
When the preening is relished, each owl stretches its neck towards the other party and coos. Scientists are suggesting that this preening significantly increases their bonding, reducing their chances of aggression before copulation. More than this, preening helps them maintain their feathers.
A Striped Owl’s Cluster Can Contain 4 Eggs
Female striped owl lay clusters of 2-4 eggs at a time. Upon hatching these eggs, the female striped owl is supplied food by the male partner who solely takes on hunting duties.
The female then tears up the prey into smaller shreds for the chicks to feed on. The mother takes care of its nestlings for weeks before they fledge.
Striped Owls Flocks Can Contain 12 Owls
Owing to its high territorial instincts, the striped owl is not a very communal bird, most times preferring its own company. Occasionally, you would see the striped owl in small flocks, numbering around 10-12 owls at a time.
Flocking is more prevalent in the late summer when the breeding season finishes. Flocking helps the striped owl to enhance its body warmth when winter comes in its fierceness. Staying in flocks also give them more protection from predators.
Striped Owls Can Grow as Long as 15 Inches
This owl belongs in the medium category. Its crown is ducked with collections of long feathers, appearing like ears. Measuring it end to end, the striped owl usually is about 12-15 inches long.
Female Striped Owls are Heavier than Male Counterparts
Compared to their male counterparts, female striped owls are bigger. While you can find male striped owls in the weight range of 320g, you can find a female weighing as much as 546g. The increased size gives the female a larger surface area to incubate its eggs.
While there is yet no specific scientific validation for the bigger sizes of females (compared to males), scientists are hypothesizing that females are bigger to protect the nest from invaders and predators, especially when the male is away hunting.
The Striped Owl’s Wings are Shorter than Most Owls
Compared to its close relatives in the owl family, the striped owl’s wings are rounder and shorter. These wings are significantly stripped, finely decorated with wormlike black carvings spread across the wings.
Striped Owls are Famed for Their Distinct “Wheeyoo” Sounds
Want to know if a striped owl is around? Keep an ear for its signature “wheeyoo” and “hu-how-how-how” screams. This sound is distinct and sharp enough to be heard from afar. The younger striped owl also emits whistled shrieks with a remarkably high pitch.
The mature male screams hoots of “hooOOOoh”, especially when it is calling out the female in the breeding season. The female could reply with a song of a higher pitch.
Incubation Can Last up to 33 Days
The female striped owl is solely responsible for the incubation of her eggs. The incubation process basically takes 4 weeks, but could also stretch to 33 days. For this time, the female owl dedicatedly sits on the egg, giving them adequate warmth.
The female stripe owl would lose its belly feather to enhance the warmth of the eggs. Consequently, she presses against her eggs, baring her skin to them. She majorly retains this posture with her head stationed lowly in her nest for most of the incubation time. Within this interval, its male partner would supply its food.
Striped Owls are Majorly Carnivorous
The striped owl is largely a carnivorous animal. Its diet is majorly derived from smaller prey like rodent mammals. Indeed, this owl strives on the meat of mice, lizards, and frogs. This owl also feeds on bird preys like the house sparrow, grassquits, thrushes, doves, and flycatchers.
The striped owl is also ambitious and bold enough to go for bigger prey. Sometimes, this owl can prey on animals as big as 0.7x its size. Therefore, supposedly bigger animals like rabbits, squirrels, cavies, white-eared opossums, and pigeons can be preyed upon by this remarkable bird.
Striped Owls Suck at Building Their Nests
When it comes to hunting, there are very few birds as spectacular as the striped owl. But when it comes to building its own nest, the striped owl also spectacularly flops. This smart owl prefers to snatch the already-made nests of other animals, deriding building its nest from scratch.
The striped owl will jump into nests built by other birds in the trees. These could be nests originally built by crows, hawks, and magpies. Otherwise, it would nest in cavities in trees designed by the hardworking likes of the woodpecker.
Striped owls also have a special knack for nesting on the flat ground – especially when they don’t find nests to snatch. This owl can readily hide in thick bushes or clumps of grasses.
Striped Owls Sometimes Hide Their Food
Are you expecting lots of generosity from this owl? Not always! The striped owl is smart enough to hide its food at intervals. This habit is common when the owl had enough from its hunting expedition.
Therefore, you could see caching behaviors from this stripe owl where it could catch its prey and hides they away in tree cavities. In some cases, the striped owl can hide its food away behind rocks, tree branches’ forks, and even in piles of grass. It generally comes back to fetch the meal within 48 hours.
Most Times, Only Chick Fledges
Survival among the striped owl’s fledglings is competitive. For the first weeks of life, the nestlings can’t maintain their temperature; they can’t fly or see – practically incapacitated. In this state, their survival is largely dependent on the benevolence of their mother.
There is fierce competition for food and warmth among nestlings in a nest. The earlier the egg is hatched, the stronger and bigger that nestling is.
This gives it increased chances of beating its younger and weaker siblings off for food. In case of sustained scarcity of food –which isn’t totally uncommon – some of these nestlings die from severe starvation. At the whole end, barely one fledgling would survive.
Striped Owls are Violently Territorial
This is an owl that would readily resort to aggression to protect their territories. They are largely unsociable, preferring to keep to their own company. Being very competitive, it would attack other animals (even fellow stripe owls) that it perceives as invasive or rivals for resources.
They tend to defend their territories all year long. A persistent intruder is interpreted as a high-level threat, necessitating a concerted attack from the resident striped owl.
Bold and relentless, stripe owls will attack even far bigger animals like humans if they come unreasonably close to their nests. The striped owl will especially attack the intruder’s eyes and face, leveraging its talons and feet.