NEW VINEYARD — Dozens of people of all ages packed into the New Vineyard Public Library community room Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 19, to learn about owls. The Owls of Maine presentation is part of Chewonki Foundation’s Traveling Natural History programing.

Chewonki science educator Colleen Moureaux brought skulls, talons, feathers and wings for the audience to inspect. She even brought along a few of the foundation’s owls so participants could get an up-close view of the nocturnal creatures.

Fern Bailey, 4, of New Vineyard inspects the underside of an owl wing Wednesday during a Chewonki Foundation Traveling Natural History Owls of Maine program at New Vineyard Public Library. Dee Menear/Franklin Journal

Unlike us, owls do not have eye muscles, she said. She had the audience move their eyes, but not their heads, to look up, down, left and right.

“You can see a lot without moving your head,” she said. “Now, put your hands around your eyes like binoculars. You can’t see very much, can you? That is what it’s like being an owl. It’s also why they can turn their heads so much.”

It is a misconception that owls can turn their heads a full 360 degrees, she said. “Owls have 7 bones in their necks, we have 4. They can turn their head 270 degrees.”

Sparky observes the audience Wednesday, Feb. 19, during the Chewonki Traveling Natural History Owls of Maine program at New Vineyard Public Library.

Moureaux helped the audience identify the location of an owls ears. “The pointy things on top of the head are not its ears,” she said. Those are called horn feathers or ear tufts.”


The scientific name for the feathery tufts is plumicorns, she said. They are neither horns nor ears and their exact purpose is not known.

An owl’s ears on located on the side of its head, the left ear higher than the right. “This is helpful for telling the direction a sound is coming from,” she said.

Moureaux brought out several small owls for the audience to see but it was Sparky, a great horned owl, that captured the most attention.

Sparky has been with Chewonki for 25 years, she said. He came to the foundation after being injured from flying into a power line.

Great horned owls are the largest owl that can be found year-round in Maine, she said.

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