Mystery of Owls’ Rotating Necks Solved
For anyone who’s ever watched an owl swivel its head 270 degrees and thought it unnatural (you’re not alone), there’s good news: it is absolutely not a process made possible by malevolent or supernatural forces. Rather, owls just have much more agreeable blood vessels.
Whereas we would cause serious damage to our arteries if we were to try and cock our heads that far in the wrong direction, owls have flexible, ballooning circulatory infrastructure that allows them to perform these feats of cranial acrobatics. It makes looking around with those stationary eyes a much more agreeable process.
Click through for more of a scientific explanation on how—and why—these raptors do this. Better yet, you’re welcome to visit us on Saturday mornings in the NYBG for our weekly Bird Walks, where you might see it for yourself.
Debbie Becker has been leading these birdwatching tours for over 25 years, and if there’s any time to see our several species of owl in action, it’s a chilly winter morning with the leaves gone from the trees. As always, just be sure to keep your ears open for the telling hoots in the Forest. —MN