WEIRD: Owl Shakes Head in Slow Motion

Great Horned Owl shakes head

This adolescent Great Horned Owl’s head-shaking behavior looks rather strange when captured at 1/60th of a second. It reminds me of a bird’s equivalent of bad hair. Click to play video.

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.

About Michael Bukay, MS

Hello! I'm Mike Bukay, founder of Michael Bukay & Associates. Much of my career has been spent as a consultant/troubleshooter/instructor in the field of high purity industrial water treatment. During this time I have had the opportunity to work with a variety of clients including IBM, Intel, Electric Power Research Institute, Genentech, Hewlett Packard, Advanced Micro Devices, and many others. These experiences provide me with a solid foundation for the operation and maintenance requirements, and training needs, for process-critical industrial equipment. After 18 years of consulting work, I decided to follow my passion to make movies. I took classes and started making movies. Now, we produce a wide variety of videos. I love the work!
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