Mysterious, silent and ferocious birds of prey. Owls are almost everywhere. These distinctive birds populate every continent except Antarctica and survive in everything from arid desert, to arctic tundra, to dense rain forest. From ancient mythology to Harry Potter, owls hold an enduring place in the human imagination. In some cultures they are revered; in others, feared. And for every superstition that associates owls with good fortune, a dozen more link them to death, sickness or evil. Frances Backhouse provides an in-depth yet lively study of these fascinating birds. Topics include anatomy and adaptations, mating behaviors, egg laying and chick rearing, feeding habits, communication displays and location. Superbly designed birds of prey, owls are equipped with highly effective tools for killing and dismembering their prey: strong feet with curved, stiletto-like talons and a sturdy hooked bill with razor-sharp cutting edges. What makes owls unique is that most of them hunt in darkness from dusk to dawn using their keen hearing, enhanced low-light vision and sound-muffling structures on their flight feathers. With detailed profiles of and range maps for all 23 species, along with 70 color photographs illustrating key behavioral characteristics, Owls of North America is a solid reference for birders, naturalists and general readers.