owl and moon

Requested by @ohgodpleasestop

For such an adorable starter, Rowlet sure has a spooky pokédex entry. In Pokémon Moon, the dex describes how Rowlet stealthily flies without making a sound, sneaking up on its targets before violently attacking them. What it doesn’t mention is how Rowlet is able to fly so silently. That’s what we’re here to answer.

Owls are known as silent flying predators, and their magic is all in their wings. Sound is created through air turbulence when flying. The wings push around the surrounding air, which creates small pockets of noisy wind. An owls’ wings are broad and flat, which makes them suitable for soaring and floating. In other words, owls don’t have to flap their wings as much as other birds. Less flapping means less chance for noise.

Secondly, owl feathers are fluffy, which is better for absorbing sound waves. Like screaming into a pillow, the fluffy feathers capture and absorb the sound waves that are created, muffling them and making them quieter.

Most importantly, however, is the structure of the feathers themselves. The owl’s primary flight feathers are fringed and serrated like a comb. With other birds, the wing creates one big turbulence as it pushes through the air: one big noise. The comb feathers of an owl split up the turbulence into a bunch of tiny micro-turbulences. Instead of one big sound, an owl’s wing creates a bunch of tiny sounds. These tiny sounds are then easily absorbed by the fluffy, velvety feathers, until they vanish entirely.

Rowlet’s wing feathers are fluffy and serrated like a comb. The comb structure breaks down noisy air turbulence into micro-turbulences, which are then absorbed in the fluffy down. Ultimately, this allows Rowlet to fly silently.