Have a Hoot in the Woods

Have you ever wondered why owls stare so much? It's not impoliteness, they simply can't help it. Unlike humans, they can't move their eyes. So in order to look at something off to the right, say, they have to move their heads. They have flexible necks, however, that allow them to turn 270 degrees - that's three-quarters of the way around.

Owls tend to nap during the day and hunt at night. But if a sound catches their attention during daylight hours, one eye will slowly open, and if it's really interesting both eyes will pop open, says Lewis Stevens, the curator in charge of the Live Animal Center at the Museum of Science in Boston.

Even though most owls don't migrate in winter, hunting for rodents, rabbits, and skunks gets harder when there's snow on the ground, Stevens says. And when the weather gets bad, owls just hunker down and sit it out.

This time of year you can go to the woods and call owls. If you hear an owl hoot, hoot back. They're calling for a mate, Stevens says. Be patient, wait for their response, and keep hooting back. Eventually the owl will move closer to your location and maybe sit in a tree 100 yards away.

But he'll probably be shocked when he discovers who's calling....

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