What an Owl Knows: the new science of the world’s most enigmatic birds
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Genius of Birds and The Bird Way, a brilliant scientific exploration of owls, the most elusive group of birds, and an investigation into why these remarkable and yet mysterious animals exert such a hold on human imagination.For centuries, owls have captivated and intrigued us. Our fascination with these mysterious birds was first documented over 30,000 years ago, in the Chauvet cave paintings in southern France, and our enduring awareness and curiosity of their forward gaze and nearly silent flight has cemented the owl as a symbol of wisdom and knowledge, foresight and intuition. But what, really, does an owl know? Though our infatuation goes back centuries, scientists have only recently begun to study these birds in great detail. While more than 270 species exist today, and reside on every continent except Antarctica, owls are far more difficult to find and study than other birds – because while not only cryptic and perfectly camouflaged, owls are most active in the dark of night.Joining scientists on this maddening and elusive treasure hunt, Jennifer Ackerman brings alive the rich biological history of these animals and reveals the remarkable scientific discoveries into their brains and behaviour. She explores how, with modern technology and tools, researchers now know that owls talk all night long – without opening their bills. That their hoots follow a series of complex rules, allowing them to express needs and desires. That owls duet. They migrate. They use tools. They hoard their prey. Some live in underground burrows, some dine on scorpions.Ackerman brings this research alive with her own personal field observations about owls, and dives deep too into why this bird endlessly inspires and beguiles us. What an Owl Knows is an awe-inspiring and spellbinding journey across the globe and through human history, and a dazzling account of the astonishing health, hunting skills, communication, and sensory prowess that distinguishes the owl from nearly all other birds. An extraordinary glimpse into the mind of these brilliant animals, What an Owl Knows pulls back the curtain on the the hidden and still undiscovered realities of our shared world.