by Jennifer Ackerman
From the author of The Genius of Birds and The Bird Way, a brilliant scientific investigation into owls—the most elusive of birds—and why they exert such a hold on human imagination
For millennia, owls have captivated and intrigued us. Our fascination with these mysterious birds was first documented more than thirty thousand years ago in the Chauvet Cave paintings in southern France. With their forward gaze and quiet flight, owls are often a symbol of wisdom, knowledge, and foresight. But what does an owl really know? And what do we really know about owls? Though our fascination goes back centuries, scientists have only recently begun to understand in deep detail the complex nature of these extraordinary birds. Some two hundred sixty species of owls exist today, and they reside on every continent except Antarctica, but they are far more difficult to find and study than other birds because they are cryptic, camouflaged, and mostly active in the dark of night.