The bird’s head seemed to have disappeared! It also reminded me of a bird’s equivalent of having a bad-hair day. I knew that owls can rotate their heads much as 270 degrees, but I didn’t expect to see this image while editing my series of videos on Great Horned Owls. I decided to slow down the footage to help demonstrate this effect. I slowed it down to 2% of normal speed in the slow motion portion of this video.
In the second part of the video, which plays at normal speed, you can see how fast owls can shake their heads. Since they cannot move their eyes, owls hve developed the uncanny ability to rotate their heads to see what is behind, and on either side, of them. I imagine that their neck muscles are very strong from this behavior, and may explain how they can rotate their heads so rapidly. Why this owl was rotating its head, I cannot say. Perhaps it caught a flea from the skunk it ate the night before, and was trying to shake it off.
Click to view Part 1 of this series of Great Horned Owl videos.