The Hennepin County Master Gardener Learning Garden Tour was Saturday and I volunteered at house six, also known as the amazing urban escape of Doc and Carolyn.
They had the Raptor Center display in their garden. Pictured above is Samantha, a Great Horned Owl, from the birch forests of northern Minnesota. Her broken wing didn’t heal properly, so she’s a permanent resident of the education population at the center.
Interesting facts I learned about these owls throughout the day:
Their eyes are fixed. Instead of being able to rotate them in their sockets the birds can rotate their heads 270 degrees! Their necks have 14 vertebrae to allow for this extreme range of motion without moving any other part of their bodies.
Their faces are dishes that collect sound (ok, that I knew) and direct it to their ears. The ears themselves are unusual, in that they point different directions. One points up and the other, down. Allowing the bird to triangulate the location of it’s prey, even in the winter when snow cover hampers visibility. How does it do this you ask? By turning it’s head until the sound is at the same volume in both ears, indicating the bird has it’s prey in front of it (wherever the head is pointed).