It turns out that cottontail bunnies have more to worry about in the neighborhood than just hawks and coyotes.
As my husband and I were walking the dogs this morning, we found a Great Horned Owl wing feather lying next to the sidewalk. This stealthy hunter takes birds, skunks, mice — and rabbits.
And owls do so silently. The tailing edge of their wing feathers are frayed, preventing the air from generating noise-producing turbulence as it passes over and under the wing.
But scientists have recently discovered another adaptation on feathers that helps owls keep quiet as they fly — a comb-like set of barbules on the leading edge of the feathers. These small structures “break up the turbulent air that typically creates a swooshing sound. Those smaller streams of air are further dampened by a velvety texture unique to owl feathers and by a soft fringe on a wing’s trailing edge. These structures together streamline the air flow and absorb the sound produced.” (https://www.audubon.org/news/the-silent-flight-owls-explained)
After whipping out my trusty camera and snapping these photos, I left the feathers by the sidewalk. Under the Migratory Bird Treaty, it is illegal to collect any native birds or their feathers for any reason.
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