What an Owl Knows

Simon Worrall at The Guardian:

The book is not just about owls, though, but about the people who study them. There are many scientists and conservationists, who have, like Ackerman, fallen under the spell of these endearing creatures. People like José Luis Peña, a neuroscientist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in New York, who has discovered that a barn owl’s sound localisation system relies on sophisticated mathematical computations to pinpoint its prey. Or zoomusicologist Magnus Robb, who studies hoots.

“If anyone knows anything about anything,” Winnie-the-Pooh famously remarked, “it’s Owl who knows something about something.” And it turns out, owls know a lot. Equipped with super-sensitive hearing, great grey owls in the far north are capable of detecting and catching voles deep beneath the snow by sound alone. Scientists have even discovered that owls process sound in the visual centre of their brains, so they may actually get a “picture” of the environment they are hearing.

more here.