"Horn" tufts on owls ... any purpose?

Obviously, not all physical traits in animals have a “purpose.” But many do. Has any explanation been given as to the purpose of the “horns” of tufted feathers on the heads of some species of owls?

They help camoflage. A rounded profile like the top of a bird’s head stands out much more strongly (especially against backgrounds like tree bark) than a more jagged profile like that produced by the tufts.

Interesting. Whereas (tuftless) burrowing owls would not be seen against such a background, presumably.

It’s all crap.

I ain’t got no tufts and lady barn owls love me.


Ha! Tuft envy.

Ya got me. [Falls to the forest floor, dead]

You’re not a true owl, anyway…

ADAPTIVE SIGNIFICANCE OF EAR TUFTS IN OWLS (PDF Warning). © The Cooper Ornithological Society 1981.

Same here!


Oh nyctea, I’m in love!!

<blush> (which is white and therefore indistinguishable from the rest of my white feathered face!)

But it’s so appropriate as your costume for our forthcoming wedding!