Owls are able to fly so silently for a combination of reasons, says Scott Weidensaul, an owl expert and contributing editor at Audubon. Owl feathers have a leading edge shaped like a comb and a trailing edge with a fringe; these funnel air smoothly over the wing and dampen the sound. An owl’s enormous wings, relative to its body size, also provide greater lift and enable it to fly slowly—as few as two miles per hour. “They’re buoyant in flight and moth-like,” Weidensaul says, further enhancing their ability to sneak up on small mammals.
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article: Xander Zellner