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Japan-- Kamakura Owl Forest- Learning about the Beautiful and Magnificent Owls

Updated: Jan 15, 2022

Touring Tokyo and a Journey through Japan-- these are two books I have written about my travels in Japan. Check these out!!!

When you visit the beautiful country of Japan, you will find all kinds of unique exhibits. When I was traveling in Kamakura, I was amazed by the myriad of Japanese and other international restaurants in Kamakura. Many people travel to Kamkura to visit the Great Buddha, which is a very prominent and well advertised exhibit.  Evidence of this advertisement is recognized all around the train stations. When you exit the train station in Kamakura, you will proceed downstairs. Facing in front you is a sign that reads the Great Buddha and there is an arrow pointing to the right or left depending upon which side of the train station you are on. However, some of the exhibits are not advertised very well. One of those exhibits is the 鎌倉乃フクロウの森 Owl Forest, which is situated in the prominent and bustling Kamochi dori shopping street in Kamakura, Japan. The forest opened in November 2015, and it is about a two minute walk from the Kamakura train station.

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This article will describe 11 owl species that can you observe at the Kamakura Owl Forest. These owls have very unique features and their appearance is very beautiful.

I have seen signs for owl cafes in Akihabara and other places in Japan. However, I have never seen an owl forest. My friend informed me about this one in Kamakura. I decided I would visit it. I was truly impressed.

You will take an elevator to the third floor of a building. Facing the same building, you should be able to observe an Owl forest sign at the bottom of the “Information” building advertising board. The sign reads “Kamakura Owl Forest” both in English and Japanese. The sign had an arrow pointing to the third floor.

Once you exit the elevator doors, you will be looking at the door of the owl forest. When you walk into the door, you may hear いらっしゃりませ irassharimase or welcome in Japanese. This greeting is very common in Japan.

The prices for the owl forest range from 600 yen ($5.53) for adults ages 13 and up and 400 yen ($3.69) for children ages 3 and up. Children under the age of 3 can visit the forest for free.

After paying, you can head straight to the owls. You are permitted to take pictures of the owls and even pet them. Just be careful though because some of owls are not as friendly as others. If any show some aggression, I would avoid petting them. If you decide to pet them, make sure you only pet them on their heads with the back of your hands. Unlike many of the animal theme restaurants in Japan, there is no time limit. That was a huge advantage to me simply because I do not want to be rushed in any place.

Eurasian Eagle Owl

First, the extraordinary and largest owl in the world is regarded as the Eurasian Eagle owl. Consisting of 12 unique sub-species, this fierce raptor has large bright orange eyes, which resembles the color of a pumpkin. The Eurasian owl can be specifically identified by its black to grey facial disk, black beak, and white chin. The owl’s feathers may be yellowish brown or black. Black bars may be keenly observed on both the tail and wing of the bird. Interestingly, the owl can successfully rotate its head an astounding 270 degrees. Despite what is portrayed in the movies, the owl is incapable of rotating its head 360 degrees. Additionally, the Eurasian owl has vivid, pointed, and fluffy ear tufts. This effective and powerful predator can sublimely detect its prey from a great distance. Having acute eyesight and armed with terrifying and black razor sharp talons or claws, the owl can adroitly glide through the air.

When the owl attentively observes its prey by its impeccable eyesight and hearing while soaring through the sky— deems it the prime time to attack its prey— the owl will suddenly and swiftly dive bomb to the ground and violently snatch and simultaneously pierce its prey. Eurasian Eagle owls may feed in the mornings and evenings; however, the owl feasts better at night because of the fact that it is a nocturnal creature. Some of the prey that the owl stealthily attacks include the following: crabs, seabirds, geese, hedgehogs, rats, small deer, foxes, lizards, ducks, crows, rabbits, herons, frogs, fish, insects, and snakes.

The Eurasian owl’s lifespan is about 20 years in the wild. It is commonly found in Eurasia. The owl can also be found in Africa, India, Japan, Mongolia, Portugal, all the way to Europe. Eurasian owls can be located in rainforests, valleys, rocky coastal areas, and mountains.

Rufous legged owl

Second, located in the jungles and forest of South America, including Argentina and Chile, as well as in Papua New Guinea, Australia, and Indonesia, the gorgeous Rufous legged owl– unlike the Eurasian eagle owl– has large dark or yellow eyes as opposed to large bright orange colored eyes that the Eurasian Eagle owl has. The Rufous legged owl has a round head, but ear tufts are absent. Its beak is grey, feathers are white and brown, feet are orange brown, and the tail is short. The owl is related to the tawny and ural owl. The owl grunts rapidly and makes noises that are high pitched. The Rufous legged owl can feed on insects, mice, ducks, parrots, turkeys, and flying foxes.

Barn owl

Third, the barn owl is commonly found in barns hence the name of the owl. Farmers consider the owl to be an omen as if something superstitious would transpire in the barn. In fact, the barn owl has been dubbed a “Ghost owl” because of its’s ghost like visage. Other places the barn owl can be discovered include hollow trees, sheds, haystacks, caves, river banks, and church steeples. Like the Rufous legged owl, the barn owl has a round head, dark eyes, and the ear tufts are not present. Its feathers are white and grey. Smaller than a great horned owl and larger than a screech owl, the barn owl has dark eyes also comparable to the Rufous legged owl. The barn owl has a white facial disk, which resembles that of a heart. It makes spooky, hissing, rasping, and screeching sounds. Imagine walking in the woods on a dark and cold night and listening to these shriek and terrifying sounds. These sounds and the spreading of wings are typically made when the owl appears to be endangered or threatened. The lifespan of the barn owl is about 10 years, which is a 10 year’s difference from the Eurasian owl’s lifespan. The barn owl usually feeds on mice, fish, rabbits, and amphibians.

Barn owls can be found all over the world including Scotland, British Columbia, Britain, Europe, Australia, Central America, South America, North America, Africa, Japan, and the Philippines.

Some of the barn owl’s predators may consist of snakes, hawks, golden eagles, and other owls such as the tawny owl.

Black barn owl

Fourth, the black barn owl, which has been called a desert owl as well as a rock owl, is argued to be unique given that the owl was born with solid black feathers. This specific color ties directly to a rare genetic condition called Melanism. This genetic condition results in the owl having dark body tissues; this darkness is due in part to an exorbitant amount of melatonin. As a result of parent neglect, many of the chicks ultimately experience death. This neglect also links to the rarity of the owl.

Tawny owl

Fifth, the tawny owl can be identified by its brown feathers and round head. The owl has a rather plain facial disk and is located in Europe, Iran, India, Taiwan Britain, Northern Africa, Northern Russia, Scandinavia, Siberia, South Korea, as well as Eurasia. Comparable to the Rufous legged owl, the tawny owl does not have ear tufts. It has an olive color beak. Despite this fact though, the tawny owl has excellent hearing, and is considered territorial and aggressive towards humans. The tawny is notorious for having excellent eye sight. Furthermore, the size of the tawny owl mirrors that of the size of a pigeon. Like the barn owl, the tawny owl is considered an omen to one’s demise. Some of the other names that the tawny owl has been referred to include the wood owl and the Ivy owl. The lifespan of the owl is about 18 years. Tawny owls feed on insects, birds, rodents, earthworms, frogs, lizards, and bats.

Western screech owl

Sixth, the western screech owl can be identified by its grey to brown to reddish brown fluffy feathers, and dark bill. Nocturnal and small in size, the owl has pointed and short ear tufts; and, like the Rufous legged owl, the western screech owl has bright yellow eyes. Western screech owls can be found in the Pacific Northwest covering central Mexico, Arizona, and Alaska, Western United States, and Canada. In times of danger, the western screech owl will superbly camouflage itself by successfully extending its feathers and stiffening its feathers. This brilliant camouflaging dupes humans and other animals into concluding the owl is a tree branch. This disguising may be in part to it being threatened. When threatened, the owl will extend its body and stiffen its feathers. On the other hand, when searching for food, the owl will utilize stealth tactics. For instance, if the owl is housed in a tree and witnesses a rodent rummaging through the forests, the owl will quietly leave its area and glide towards the rodent without creating a lot of noise. Just when the rodent thinks it is safe, the owl quickly swoops down and snatches the prey. Other prey the screech owl eats include rabbits, ducks, inserts, and fish.

White faced owl

Seventh, the white faced owl amalgamates the eye color features of both the western screen owl, Rufous legged owl in the sense that the white faced owl’s eyes can variably range from orange to yellow to red. The white faced owl has short ear tufts and appears broad in statue. The white faced owl is commonly found in Africa including Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, and Somalia. Similar to the Western screech owl, the white faced owl has the capability of lengthening their bodies therefore resembling that of a tree branch. This transformation takes place when the owl deems itself to be threatened. The way in which the white faced owl resembles a tree branch is by shrinking its feathers and elongating the body. During the unique transformation, it seems as if the owl is absent of feathers. What is actually transpiring though is the owl has tucked in its feathers. What has also taken place is the owl has closed and narrowed its eyes. This important defense mechanism allows the white faced owl to decrease its chances of being eaten by predators.

Ural owl

Eighth, the medium sized ural owl can be identified by its small black eyes, round head, long tail, and yellow bill. Its facial disk is plain grey in color. The owl has no ear tufts; conversely, it has superb hearing, and is regarded to be larger than the tawny owl. The ural owl eats insects, rodents, pigeons, and lizards. The ural owl can be found in parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Croatia, Slovakia, Japan, Korea, Russia, and many other places.

Spectacled owl

Ninth, the spectacled owl is large and dark brown and is notably the greatest of the tropical owls. It can be identified by its dark face, creamed like bill, and absence of ear tufts. Like the white faced owl, the spectacled owl has black and yellow eyes. Perhaps its name is due in part to the fact there are white rings encircling the eyes making it appears as if the owl is actually wearing spectacles. Furthermore, the sound of the owl is reminiscent of a cat. The spectacled owl typically feeds on crabs, birds, insects, skunks, and even sloths. Some of the sounds that the owl may make includes tapping, knocking, and whistling. Spectacled owls can be found in the rainforests of North and South America, and Central America, and Mexico. The lifespan of the spectacled owl is from 25-30 years.

Western Siberian eagle owl

Tenth, the Western Siberian eagle owl has grey feathers and is considered strikingly beautiful. The owl can be found in Western Siberia including the Atlai and Ural mountains. Some of the prey the Western Siberian eagle owl may eat includes foxes, cats, frogs, deer, crabs, and hedgehogs.

Tropical screech owl

Eleventh, the tropical screech owl is small and has short ear tufts, and grey or grey brownish feathers. The tropical screech owl, which has yellow eyes, can be found in Panama and Costa Rica. The owl can be found in Argentina, Costa Rica, Brazil, Peru, Columbia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Ecuador.

This owl obviously shows signs of aggression. Usually if an owl shows signs of nonverbal aggression, it is best not to touch it. In that same day, I observed a Japanese man reach out and pet the owl. Instantly, the owl violently bit his finger. The man was shaking repeatedly shaking his finger as if it was hurting. This was certainly not a very smart move for him to make.

I thoroughly enjoyed the owl forest in Kamakura, Japan. I would highly recommend the place given there is a wealth of knowledge to acquire about owls. I was unaware there were a great number of owl species until I visited the forest.

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