Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Spring Reading 2016 Owls! Strange and Wonderful


Last week our school had the Birds of Prey Rescue come do a presentation. They brought in a red-tailed hawk, a kestrel, a screech owl, and a barn owl. It was an amazing learning experience for all of us. So imagine my surprise when I found a copy of this book and saw so many of the same facts in it that I had just learned! Things like - there are owls on every continent but Antarctica and there are around 240 species of owls. He also describes how they make good nocturnal hunters because of their silent flight and keen hearing. The various sizes of owls and the different colorings they have evolved to help them survive in habitats around the world are incredible.

There is plenty of detail in the main text, but the captions for the illustrations add even more. And let me just say, the illustrations are excellent. You can see the feather tufts on the great horned owl, the protective coloration that lets a screech owl blend into the branch it is sitting on, and even the scorpion hanging out of the elf owl's beak. Special physical features such as the talons on an owl's feet that help them grip their prey or the facial disks that direct sound to their ears to make their hearing more acute are all shown and explained.

I also like the way Pringle talks about how owls have been viewed throughout history. Some people, like the Athenians, revered the owl and linked it with their goddess Athena. Other groups like the Mayans considered owls an omen of death. The author even mentions Harry Potter's owl, Hedwig. And in the back matter there are lists of books and websites where you can learn more. There are also a glossary and an index - very helpful for doing research.

If you enjoy this title, you may want to check out the rest of his Strange and Wonderful series, which includes Octopuses, Sharks, and Bats (to name just a few).

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