Not only are owls pretty to look at but they are important to the environment. Wisconsin is lucky to have just the right climate and pool of available prey to attract these fascinating creatures.
There are five species of owls that call Wisconsin home: barn, eastern-screech, barred, long-eared, and great-horned owls. Other types of owls often migrate to the Wisconsin from Canada.
Owls are hunters and meat-eaters. They play an important role in keeping the predator-prey relationship in balance. Owls help control the population of disease-carrying rodents and small mammals. This is vitally important in both urban and rural areas where rodents can flourish.
In addition to sharp claws and beaks, owls have four important features that help with their role in population control: head rotation, unusually effective sight, hearing, and flying.
Owls can rotate their heads up to 270 degrees or more. This head and eye rotation gives an owl the ability to precisely focus their eyes and ears and spot their prey. Also, the tufts of hair on their heads look like ears but their ears are internal with one being higher than the other. This type of hearing helps the owl quickly become aware of noises, where they're from and what made the noise. Flight is essential for an owl and due to the special feathers around their bodies, owls can fly without making a sound.
All of the Wisconsin owl species are unique. They have truly amazing features and play an important role in our ecosystem.
[Sources: wisconsinpollinators.com; madisonaudubon.org]