W I L D L I F E Guess Whooo is in the UAE? By Lugain Abulaban Owls are not the typical cuddly animals. In fact, they are often seen as bad omen in many cultures. However, many people like to think of them as a symbol of wisdom, so lets give this fascinating bird a chance to be seen in a new light. Owls are a group of predatory birds belonging to the Strigiform order. Most owls are nocturnal which means they hunt their prey only during the night. This is in their advantage because the prey would be asleep. Mice, rabbits, squirrels, and insects are a few examples of the wide range of prey owls feed on. Owls have big eyes with nocturnal eyesight that aids them in low-light situations, and ears surrounded by feathers to sharpen their hearing and help them locate their prey accurately. The Arabian Spotted Eagle Owl This owl, an Arabian version of the African Spotted Eagle Owl, is believed to be the first of its kind to live in the UAE. It was given to Dubai Zoo in 2003 by a donor, from Dibba, coastal region at the northern tip of the eastern Arabian Peninsula on the Gulf of Oman. This owl is of grey and brown colours with white blotches and big yellow eyes. Like any other animal, owls are a vital element of the environment and therefore should be well taken care of and preserved in order to keep the food chain and ecosystem in balance. Some ways of doing so include spreading awareness about the important part owls play in keeping that balance in check. Another way we can help is by donating to animal sanctuaries which aim to provide a safe natural environment for animals especially ones in danger of extinction. They also educate the public and work on changing the way we treat and think of animals. Some interesting facts about owls Owls are one of the few birds that have binocular vision, both eyes are in front of the head. Owls have three eyelids: upper that closes when they blink, lower it closes when they sleep, and diagonal that closes from the inside to the outside and helps keep their eyes clean. Owls can turn their head 270 degrees. This is to compensate for the fact that they have bony eye sockets which won’t allow them to turn their eyes inside their sockets Owls have the ability to blend into their surroundings making it hard for their prey to locate or even notice them. The owl’s superior hearing is due to the fact that they have different sized ears, which are located at different heights on their heads. Baby owls are called owlets. Owls are found on every continent except Antarctica.