Do owls preen and stretch during the day or night?

posted in: Feathers-maintenance, Owls | 0

Samson Tan photographed a Spotted Wood Owl (Strix seloputo) preening and stretching during the day. As owls are nocturnal creatures, he is naturally puzzled as to why the owl was not sleeping during the day. So he wants to know whether nocturnal birds indulge in comfort behaviour during the day or night?

Well, owls are nocturnal birds. They are active after dark, functioning best then, especially hunting prey. But this does not mean that they cannot see during the day. In fact should a prey passes by below its perch, you can rest assured that the owl will fly down and grab it. And during the breeding season, many owls hunt during the day to feed their young.

An earlier post reports a Spotted Wood Owl sunning itself in the middle of the day. Another reports a Buffy Fish Owl (Ketupa ketupu) bathing during the day. Similarly a pair of Spotted Wood Owls were reported bathing during the day. Although we are sure they do not sun themselves during the night, we are sure they also bathe at night. But so far, no one has been going around trying to spy on owls bathing in the dark.

Comfort behaviour like preening keeps the feathers in top form. Wing- and leg-stretching serve to keep the bird’s circulatory and muscular systems in working order. These are usually done just before a period of foraging or between foraging, thus mostly at night. An earlier post describes a Spotted Wood Owl indulging in comfort behaviour during the daylight hours. Again, we are sure they also do so during the night – except we have no images to proof it.

All images by Samson Tan.

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