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Little owl gets a 'kiss'

October 9, 2014 | Latest Photo Prev Next
Two little owlsTwo little owlsPhoto: Vladimir Kogan Michael / Shutterstock
October 9, 2014 | Latest Photo
Just a peck on the cheek?

Little owls are undoubtedly among the most adorable residents of Israel's Negev desert, with a range throughout the central portion of the country. Although most owls are solitary, the mating season and subsequent rearing of chicks provides a unique opportunity for photographers to capture very peculiar social behaviors. 

While the little owl in the photo above is not really "kissing" its friend, it is showing a sign of affection ... but which one? Owl kisses like this are actually more common than you might think. These little owls could be in the middle of a loving preening session or an exchange of food between mama bird and her young. Some owls even rub cheeks and bills together as a way to bond — just about as close as you can get to a human-like smooch. All of the above are gestures that owls use to show that they feel happy and comfortable with each other, and it doesn't necessarily mean they're mates; the behavior occurs in young siblings, too. 

Regardless of what's technically happening in the photo, it is truly a rare and heartwarming glimpse into the social lives of these reclusive birds. 

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