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Do Owls Have Knees? [Solved & Explained]

Do Owls Have Knees? [Solved & Explained]

Some people fear owls, while others find them fascinating. One thing is sure; these birds of prey are one of the smartest birds. Owls are usually solitary birds, and most people recognize them by their unique upright stance and broad, round heads.

Besides their unusual facial look, to most people, an owl’s legs and knees are a real mystery.

So, in case you asked yourself, do owls have knees?

Yes, owls do have knees. They have patella (kneecap), but for most owl kinds, feathers cover their knees. The location of the owl knee joint is between the tibiotarsus (large bone between femur and tibia). Yet, birds’ legs are slightly different than ours, and people often mistake owl knees for their ankles.

Keep reading if you are interested to find out more about owls’ knees, legs, talons, bones, and more.

Do owls have knees?

An owl’s skeleton is pretty usual for birds. Perfectly structured for flying and walking. Owl’s skeleton is extremely light, weighing around 9% of its total body weight.

Unlike mammals, in birds, many bones are fused together, allowing them to have good support for their weight on the ground.

Do owls actually have long legs?

Yes, owls have long and slender legs. But, the owl’s legs length may vary based on the species.

For most species, legs are rarely seen because feather covers them. Although, for some species, like a barn owl, legs are completely visible.

Owls’ legs are actually half size of their complete body height. This is not a surprising fact, since owls’ long and muscular legs are the main tools for hunting and capturing prey. In fact, long and strong legs are absolutely necessary for every predator bird.

Related Article: What Are Duck Feet Called?

Do owls have talons?

Yes, owls have four talons. Two of their talons are facing forward while the other two are in the back.

Their claw structure is perfect for catching prey, providing the owl a perfect grip.

Owls are well known to be birds of prey. They hunt, kill and feast on other animals. And for all predator birds, talons are the most important tool in their hunting arsenal.

Owls’ talons’ strength

Owl’s talons are very strong and powerful, and they use them for hunting different animals. They catch the prey with sharp talons, which is almost impossible to escape from.

For most owl prey, talon pressure is hard enough to crack their spine. In fact, for some owl species, the talon’s power pressure ranges from 300 to 500 pounds per square mile. For the animals that owls feast on, that strength is lethal.

Besides the strong talons, the owl’s hunting secret lies in their stealth attacks. They have specialized feathers in their front wings that allow them to fly in almost complete silence.

Do owls have backbones?

Owls do have a backbone. An owl is a bird, and birds belong to the vertebrates animal that all have a backbone.

Owl’s head mobility and neck movements are impressive. These feathered birds are capable of turning their heads to 270 degrees in both directions.

Although owls can’t roll or turn their eyes, rotating the head in such a manner comes in handy.

Do owls have bones in their necks?

Yes, owls have multiple vertebrae (small bones). In fact, an owl’s neck has double more vertebrae as that of humans. Those 14 small bones are one of the main reasons why these birds can move their heads in such a manner and achieve a wide range of motions.

According to Wikipedia, another reason why owls’ necks are extremely flexible is the fact their vertebral arteries are ten times the diameter of the artery, which prevents blood supply to be stopped while they rotate their heads.

Other bones that owls have:

  • Sternum – big breastbone which protects lungs, heart, and other internal organs
  • Tarsometatarsi – the foot bones
  • Scleral bone – eye socket
  • Furcula – wishbone
  • Wing bone
  • Metacarpals
  • Phalanges
  • Humerus
  • Carpals
  • Radius
  • Fibula
  • Ulna


Owls do have knees, just like any other bird species. However, their legs structure is different from humans and from other animal species.

Equipped with strong long legs and sharp talons, the owl’s hunting skills are off the chart. Their unique bone structure allows them to rotate its head for up to 270 degrees.




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