GHO & OKCOwlCam Glossary

apteria - places on owls' bodies where no feathers grow, noticeably on the side of the neck, wingpits, and down the middle of the front of their body. (See also "Brood Patch")

asymmetrical - the off-center position of the ears on either side of the head; right ear is typically set higher in the skull and at a slightly different angle. Tilting/turning the head helps the owl pinpoint the exact direction of the sound's source.

beak clicking - owls can make clicking noises with their tongues, often as part of a threat display

branchers - when the owlets start roaming onto nearby branches at 6-7 weeks. In Mrs. T’s nest, onto the nearby planter box! (See also "railing")

brood - a verb: the act of keeping the chicks warm by covering them with feathers. NOT the same as incubation. (See also "Incubation")

brood patch - a sparsely feathered area on the belly; the almost bare skin has a higher density of blood vessels than other parts of the skin, providing a direct source of warmth when in contact with the eggs.

cast - a verb: throwing up a pellet that consists of fur and bones from a previous meal. (See also "hork")

clutch - a full set of eggs laid by a bird.

crepuscular - means most active at dawn and dusk. GHOs aren’t strictly nocturnal (active at night), they are generally more crepuscular.

facial disk - a concave, flat, forward-facing facial structure ringed with distinctive feathers to help funnel sound to a bird's ears for more acute hearing. A facial disk is a key field mark for many owls.

feak - a verb, as in feaking: wiping the bill on a branch or perch after eating to get the food bits off the bill.

fledge - fledge, a verb: as in when young owlets are beginning to fly: fledging.

fledglings - when young owlets are beginning to fly. It takes practice, so this process takes time and they are very vulnerable.

flutings - comb-like or fimbriate (fringe-like) leading edge of the primary wing feathers effectively muffles the sound of the air rushing over the wing surface and allows the Owl to fly silently.

gular fluttering - or panting are terms for when an owl opens its mouth and puffs its throat in and out to cool off when hot or stressed.

hork - a verb: the “OKC Owl Cam” term for throwing up a pellet that consists of fur and bones from a previous meal. (See also “cast”.)

incubation - the act of keeping the eggs warm enough for embryos to develop into chicks. Done by females in GHOs.

mantling - hunching over a recent kill by standing over and spreading the wings slightly to try to hide it from other potential predators. Not necessarily seen at the nest, but perhaps w/owlets in play.

nictitating membrane - also referred to as the third eyelid. It is a milky blue (in GHOs) translucent membrane that blinks separately from the regular eyelids. It protects and moistens the eye.

owlet - the term for a young owl; can be nestlings (young ones on the nest) or fledglings (ready to leave the nest or having recently left the nest & learning to fly).

pellet - a dense, compact ball of indigestible material such as the fur, bones and teeth of an owl's prey. Owls cannot pass that material through their digestive tracts and instead regurgitate pellets several hours after eating in order to make room for the next meal.

rictal bristles - hair-like densely packed modified feathers packed around the beak... like whiskers. They help the owl when doing something close up, like eating or feeding owlet.

scapular - shoulder; it provides a foundation for the attachments of the muscles that move the wing.

talons - the claws on the ends of each toes (four on each foot). They are the equivalent of toenails and grow continuously , self-sharpening. (See zygodactyl). Talons can exert a force of almost thirty pounds PSI (per square inch)!

unihemispheric - literally, “half the brain is asleep and the other half is awake;” gives them the ability to watch for enemies and still catch up on their sleep.

ventriloquial - literally, “the art of projecting one's voice so that it seems to come from another source;" the owls' hoots that are projected from their throat not their beak.

zygodactyl - having two toes projecting forward and two projecting backward