About Nocturnal Birds
Nocturnal birds are mysterious and incredible creatures. While most species are elusive and hard to spot, there are signs for each bird that give us a hint to its location. Here at ThunderCroft, there is evidence of a number of nocturnal birds, each having a different preference for habitat, diet, breeding and its own unique call. Of the nocturnal birds, ThunderCroft is home to 4 species of owls which have a variety of characteristics that allow them to catch prey at night They are solitary birds who prey upon small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects that they catch with their sharp talons. As children, most of us believed that these mysterious birds of prey could actually turn their heads completely around, thus giving them somewhat of a supernatural quality in our young minds. We were not that far off and in fact, with their ability to have extreme flexibility in their head and neck region, they are capable of rotating their heads to span a 270 degree visual field. Although their hearing is superior to most creatures in the animal kingdom, their ability to focus on objects at close range is fairly limited. Instead, their eyes are constructed in a way that is much different than most other animals of prey. Foxes, coyotes, and bears all have eyes that rotate in a snug socket in their skulls, allowing them to look in different directions simply by rotating their eyes and keeping their heads perfectly still. The owl's eyes are structured in an opposite arrangement with them being placed at the end of long tubes, requiring them to actually move their heads to direct their field of vision. The extremely large size of the eyeball itself allows them to take better advantage of low light settings. In particular, their distance vision is extremely acute. Combine this with their excellent sense of hearing and they become the marksmen of the nocturnal hunting world. ThunderCroft is also home to some nocturnal birds that are not owls.
Other Nocturnal Birds
There are several other birds that are classified as nocturnal based on the fact that they can often be heard singing at night. Darkness quiets ambient noises and with fewer competing species, these "songsters" have found an incredible niche in which to share their vocal talents. Some of the additional nocturnal singers you might encounter in this region of Virginia include the Mockingbird, the Hermit Thrush, The Eastern Whip-poor-will, and the American Robin. Click each bird below to visit an individual species profile page. Photo credits included on all individual pages.
The Nocturnal Birds of ThunderCroft
The Virginia Tech Science Alliance students have identified 4 species of owls that make their homes at ThunderCroft. They have also included additional information about other owls that can be seen in this region of Virginia. Click on each bird below to visit an individual species profile page. Photo credits included on individual profile pages.