| Do owls have tails?|
|Question Date: 2017-04-04|
Yes, owls do have tails. Tails are very
important for flying. They help the bird
stay stable (not wobbly), steer, and put on the
brakes for landing. Tails probably also help them
to keep their balance when they are perched on a
Their tail is mostly feathers. The boney
part of their tail is not much bigger than the
boney parts of our tail. (Our tails are hidden by
the time we’re born.)
Owls are pretty amazing. They have very good
eyesight and hearing so they can find their prey
at night. They can hear a mouse running through
leaves. Their eyes are in front of their faces
like ours. This lets them see in 3D, but means
they can’t see behind them very well. They
have evolved the ability to turn their heads
really far, though. This lets them see behind
them. We can twist our bodies to see behind us,
but birds have a rigid body. They can’t just
turn their shoulders without turning their
hips. Their feathers have special edges so
that they make almost no noise when they fly.
What else can you find out about owls?
Thanks for asking,
Owls are like all modern birds in that their
tail skeleton is highly reduced. In most
legged animals (dogs, cats, lizards, salamanders,
etc.) a long tail is supported by up to several
dozen bones known as caudal vertebrae. In
birds, the caudal vertebrae are greatly reduced in
number and length. The three or four on the end
are fused into a single triangular element called
the pygostyle, to which the tail feathers
Interestingly, some early fossil birds (or
close bird relatives--it depends on how you define
"bird") such as the famous Archaeopteryx,
still had long tails, just like most "normal"
dinosaurs. By "normal" I mean those dinosaurs that
aren't birds, since it's now widely accepted that
birds ARE a kind of dinosaur.
Yes, they use them to control their stability as
Thanks for the great question.
Owls, and other birds, have many types of feathers
that help them fly. Some of these feathers are
called tail feathers because they are toward the
back of the bird. Tail feathers help the bird
steer and brake while flying.
Owls have tail feathers too. They tend
to be short but they are still needed for the owl
to fly. One other really neat fact about owl
feathers is that they are shaped in a way that
lets the owl fly almost perfectly silently. This
helps them capture their food more easily.
Thanks again for the question.
Tails cones in all different shapes and sizes
and fulfill many different functions depending on
the animal! Monkeys have prehensile tails
which means that they can grab objects using their
tail. It is almost as if they have a third hand!
Many fish and marine mammals have tails to help
them navigate in the water. Owls have tails,
like other birds, but what do they use them
for? While their wings generate the lift that
allows them to fly, their tails allow them to
control themselves in the air. They act very
similarly to the rudder of a boat. Thank you for
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