Feb 07 2012

Full Moon, Let’s Talk

Published by at 7:30 am under Bird Behavior,Birds of Prey

Do owls hoot more when the moon is full?

Eurasian eagle owls do.  Maybe great horned owls do too.

In 2009 biologists conducted a study in Spain to find out if moonlight influenced Eurasian eagle owl vocalizations. They radio-tagged 26 breeding eagle owls and tracked them continuously during all phases of the moon.

When the scientists analyzed the data they found that the amount of hooting was directly correlated to the amount of moonlight.  On new moon nights the owls hardly hooted, but as the moon got brighter they had more to say and they said it from higher perches where their white throat patches gleamed in the moonlight as they spoke.

The white throat patch is important.

Like our great horned owls (Bubo virginianus), Eurasian eagle owls (Bubo bubo) have white throat feathers that are only visible when they hoot.  (The owl in this picture is hooting even though we can't hear him.)  In bright moonlight the white throat patch is apparently a visual cue that backs up the sound.  Perhaps it helps the mate or rival find the bird that's vocalizing.

Tonight the moon is full.   Will our great horned owls be talking?   Listen...

(photo by Adam Kumiszcza from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the photo to see the original)

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Full Moon, Let’s Talk”

  1. Nannie U.on 07 Feb 2012 at 10:37 am

    hooo! hooo! who cooks for youuuu!

  2. Vinceon 07 Feb 2012 at 2:16 pm

    You should hear what the barn owls sound like here in the states. The wildlife comes to life at night and lulls you to sleep. I will miss all this when I leave the earth. Time goes by in the wink of an eye. Enjoy as much wake time as you can.

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