Ryūkyū or Elegant Scops Owls
The Ryūkyū Scops-owl or Elegant Scops-owl (Otus elegans) is a rare owl in its natural habitat in semi-tropical evergreen forests on the Nansei Shoto islands, southern Japan, on Lanyu Island, off south-east Taiwan, and on the Batanes and Babuyan islands off northern Luzon, Philippines.
This is a small rufous-brown owl with a brown face disk and a cinnamon facial ruff. The beak is olive-grey.
Eyes / Vision
The eyes are yellow and e nearly as large as those of humans. They are in, fact, so large that they are immobile within their sockets. This is one reason that owls need flexible necks, as they must turn their entire head to change views. They have the same number of vertebrae in their necks as most mammals and can move their heads 270 degrees (nearly all the way around!).
Owls are unable to clearly see anything within a few inches of their eyes. On the other hand, their far vision - particularly in low light conditions - is incredibly good. The color of the eyes tells us a lot about their habits; those with dark brown or black eyes are nocturnal hunters; those with yellow eyes mostly hunt during the day, and those with orange eyes hunt at night and during the day.
To protect their eyes, Owls have 3 eyelids: one upper and one lower eyelid, and a nictitating membrane. The upper lid closes when the owl blinks, and the lower closes when the Owl sleeps. The third eyelid, the nictitating membrane, is a thin layer of tissue that closes diagonally across the eye, from the inside to the outside. The purpose of these membranes is to clean, moisten and protect the surface of the eyes.
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