can birds turn their heads 360

Owls are famously good at rotating their heads, but now anatomical findings suggest they really could go a full 360 degrees without injuring themselves

How far can an owl really rotate its head?

Alex Puddephatt/Shutterstock

Owls should be able to rotate their heads a full 360 degrees, according to an analysis of the birds’ skeletons and muscles – but some researchers still have their doubts.

It has long been known that owls have extremely mobile necks. The birds have been recorded turning their heads entirely upside down, for instance, or rotating them through 270 degrees while keeping their bodies stationary. But Aleksandra Panyutina at Tel Aviv University in Israel and her colleague Alexander Kuznetsov, an independent researcher, suspect an owl’s neck is more flexible still.

The two researchers obtained the bodies of eight deceased owls – belonging to a total of five different species – from two academic institutes in Russia. They then took CT scans of each bird as they rotated its head.

This revealed that owls rely on two strategies during a head turn. First, they rotate some of the joints between the bones in their neck, which allows them to turn their heads up to 126 degrees. Secondly, they physically twist their spine, giving it a spiral staircase-like appearance. Although this coiling severely contorts the spine, Panyutina and Kuznetsov discovered the motion doesn’t damage the bones, ligaments or muscles in the owl’s neck – even if the head turns in a full circle.

Eerie Ability Not Unique

Forsman claimed that although it’s a strong adaptive feature, it’s not special. Many birds are able to look behind them in a similar way. For example, red-tailed hawks are nearly as adaptable as their nocturnal relatives.

“If you’re trying to avoid predators or detect prey, there are lots of advantages to being able to look over your shoulder and see something coming,” he stated. (Watch a video of an owl hunting prey. ).

While they may not stand out in the animal kingdom, owls have a distinct advantage in Hollywood horror films. These birds have bulbous eyes and haunting calls that allow them to transition seamlessly from one suspenseful story to the next.

The head-turning study won first place in the Posters category of the 2012 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge.

can birds turn their heads 360

can birds turn their heads 360

can birds turn their heads 360

can birds turn their heads 360

can birds turn their heads 360

can birds turn their heads 360

can birds turn their heads 360

can birds turn their heads 360

can birds turn their heads 360

can birds turn their heads 360

can birds turn their heads 360

can birds turn their heads 360

can birds turn their heads 360

can birds turn their heads 360

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FAQ

Which bird can turn its head 360 degrees?

How Owls Twist Their Heads Almost 360 Degrees.

Can all birds turn their heads 180 degrees?

“It is thought that only owl can turn its head 180 degrees. Actually, most birds can turn their heads (and neck) 180 degrees. “Birds have many more vertebrae in the neck than humans, ranging from about 14 or 15 and up to a maximum of 25 in the swan.

What animals can turn their heads 360?

In the mammal kingdom, the unique spinal morphology of tarsiers makes them capable of turning their heads nearly 180° in each direction, allowing them the ability to rotate their heads almost 360°.

Can parrots turn their heads 360?

Which animals can turn their head around and see behind them without turning their body? ONLY two animals can see behind themselves without turning their head and they are rabbits and parrots. Their eyes are on the sides of their head, instead on the front and this allows them to swivel 360 degrees.