The day was hot, the owl was angry… we shot this really fast. It’s not Olivia the owl’s fault, it was just one of those days. As we all know, owls are nocturnal creatures, and we happened to be filming Olivia during the hottest, brightest part of the day. If your eyes were that big and we made you perform for us on camera at high noon, you’d be squinting and hissing at us too!

But the greatest disappointment, in the end, was that I did not have enough time in this segment to tell our audience about all of the amazing adaptations that this creature has. Their claws are enormous and powerful, they have excellent hearing, and fantastic vision in low light. But perhaps one of the coolest things about the Great Horned Owl is that they can fly almost silently due to “fringes” on their feathers that help to break up the sound of air passing over their wings.

The other thing people might not know is that the famous “hoo-hoo-hoo” sound that we make when we are imitating owls comes from the Great Horned Owl. People tend to think all owls sound like this because the male GH owl’s call is often used in Hollywood movies, no matter what kind of owl is being depicted on screen.

Olivia and her ilk are well adapted, formidable hunters, and truly gorgeous to look at… go and see for yourself at the Oakland Zoo.

Watch theCool Critters: Owls story online, as well as find additional links and resources.

Joan Johnson is an Associate Producer for QUEST on KQED Television.

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Producer’s Notes: Cool Critters: Great Horned Owls 12 March,2016Joan Johnson


Joan Johnson

Joan Johnson is an TV Associate Producer for QUEST. Joan got her start making science television back in 1998 when she joined the team at Sea Studios in Monterey, working as a researcher and production coordinator on National Geographic Television projects for 4 years. Following that she pursued a career in features and network television down in Los Angeles, working on seven full length feature films, three television shows and several pilots. Joan graduated in 1993 from U.C. Santa Cruz with honors in Biology, and spent several years working as a marine biologist, naturalist and SCUBA guide. Originally from San Francisco, Joan is thrilled to be home and working on QUEST, fulfilling a long-term goal of combining her interests in science and entertainment.

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