Owls can rotate their heads about 270 degrees in either direction, and up and down about 90 degrees, without moving their shoulders. This maneuverability is key to their ability to spot prey, especially when you consider that an owl doesn’t have eyeballs. Their eyes are shaped more like tubes, and are held rigidly in place by bones called sclerotic rings. Their eyes consist of densely packed retinal rods -- about a million rods per square millimeter -- which help them see in all kinds of light conditions.
The eyes have it:
- Owls are farsighted, and they can’t focus on objects that are very close. Whisker-like bristles located near their beaks help them detect objects at close range.
- Owls have binocular vision. Binocular vision is the ability to see an object with both eyes, at the same time. This visual acuity increases the owl’s depth perception.
- Owls have three eyelids. The upper eyelid closes downward when the owl blinks, and the lower eyelid closes up when the owl sleeps. The third eyelid provides translucent protection, moving horizontally while still allowing the owl to see.