Great horned owls roost throughout the work in defended rocky caves or top top tree limbs. Periodically if you check out an owl during the day, stop and watch. If the owl is not bothered, that will slowly closes that eyes and also fall asleep. The talons clutch the tree branch and keep the from falling off its perch!

Contrary to popular belief, owls cannot rotate their heads fully around. They deserve to rotate your heads 270 degrees, many thanks to extra vertebra in your necks. Due to the fact that their eye are resolved in their sockets - castle can"t relocate their eye up or down or side to side - the owl has to move its entirety head come compensate.

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When owls space awake, they usage their hearing and also eyesight to alert lock to danger or feasible prey. A great horned owl"s eyes are almost as big as a human"s, and permit a good deal of irradiate to pass through the pupil, permitting the owl to watch in dark conditions. If a good horned owl was as large as a human, the eyes would be the size of oranges!

Owls have and also incredible feeling of hearing as well, a characteristics that allows them to hunt in ~ night. Their ears are located on the political parties of the head, yet are off-set, not symmetrical like person ears. The openings that the ears are slightly tilted in different directions - frequently the right ear is longer and also set higher up on the skull. Owls have actually soft feathers the surround the openings i m sorry they deserve to spread to make a funnel because that sound to get in the ear. This permits the owl to use triangulation to pinpoint the resource of a sound, once the food cannot it is in seen. Through tilting or relocating their head till the sound is of same volume in each ear, the owl deserve to pinpoint the direction and also distance that the sound.


Owl feathers space soft, nearly like polar fleece come the touch. This helps to deaden the sound of air rushing over the feathers while the bird is in flight. The front sheet of the first primary or wing feather is toothed like a hand saw. This helps wind happen over the wings and keep the bird"s flight noiseless. The wouldn"t be straightforward to catch prey at night if you were crashing around in the dark!

Female great horned owl through two young owls

Great horned owls are large and bulky (3-4 pounds), stand 18-25" tall with a wingspan the 36-60" long. Males and females are comparable in appearance, except the woman is larger. The plumage the the great horned owl different regionally, native pale to dark. In general, they have actually brown body plumage extended with darker brown spots and white throat feathers that comparison with the dark cross-barred underparts. The white feathers was standing out like a collar versus the darker underside feathers. Some good horned owls may be very pale underneath, however still the white collar stand out.

The great horned owl"s face disk may have actually orangish or grayish feathers, and also whiter feathers that kind a V in between the yellow eyes through black pupils. Their ear tufts are huge and set far personally on the head. As with a dog, great horned owls usage these ear tufts come convey body language - as soon as they room irritated the tufts lie flat and when they room inquisitive the ear stand upright. In summary, four an excellent field marks because that the an excellent horned owl are: size, eye color, ear tufts and the white collar.


Family: Strigidae (STRIJ-ih-dee). The usual owl family, includes around 140 owls other than for barn owls and also bay owls.

Genus: Bubo (BEW-boh) is native the Latin word meaning "owl" or from the Greek word because that "eagle owl" supplied by the great first century roman inn naturalist Pliny (Gaius Plinius Secundus). Great horned owls are related to the eagle owl of Eurasia. Species: virginianus, definition "of Virginia" whereby the first specimen of great horned owls was collected. The usual name "horned owl" comes from the big ear tufts.

Geographic Range

good horned owls occur anywhere the joined States and also most of Canada, and also southward to central and south America come the Straits that Magellan. Castle are among the many widespread types of owls. They mostly reside year ring in your territories, however ones from the much north relocate southward in autumn or winter.


If friend hear a an excellent horned owl call, the is a an excellent identification aid. Their speak to is a collection of deep hoots, from 3 come 8 note long, and sounds favor - "Whose Awake, Me Too", v the "Me Too" component descending in tone or who-who-ah-whoo, who-ah-whoo. Prefer a coyote howl, the call of the good horned owl is a standard sound of the wild and also can be heard a long means off. As soon as nesting pairs of good horned owls call, the female has the greater pitched voice.

Young great horned owls have actually a screeching hunger speak to that is also very loud and also sounds like short blasts that escaping vapor through steel pipes.


discovered in woods, mountain forests, desert canyons, marshes, city parks, and urban forests. The owls choose open areas to dense woodlands or colony sites close come the sheet of a woodland where they deserve to hunt.

Breeding and Nesting

Great horned owls are one of the earliest spring nesting birds; eggs might be to adjust in January or February with April. They usage abandoned stick swarms of a hawk or heron or crow, but additionally nest in rock alcoves, hollows that trees, abandoned buildings, or occasionally on the ground.


Throughout the winter, courting an excellent horned owls will light up your nesting territory with night hooting. Normally 2-3 white eggs space laid, return they may lay approximately 6 eggs. Both the male and also female incubate the eggs because that 30-35 days. The young are fed by both parents, and the parents fiercely defend their nest site against intruders. If young owls fall out the the swarm prematurely, the adults will feed the bird ~ above the ground.

The young fledge native the nest at 45-55 job old.

Great horned owls have the right to live much longer than 12 years; part captive birds have lived to 29 years old.

Great Horned owls at occupational at night.

Food and Hunting

Great horned owls tend to perch during the daylight hrs in a defended rocky alcove or on a tree limb. They largely hunt at night, yet may hunt in daylight hours. Indigenous a quiet perch, the owl listens for sounds the betray a creature"s presence. They might move about from tree come tree to gain a far better fix top top the source of the sound. When they pinpoint the sound, the owl silently swoops in, diffusion its talons large and pounces on its food - known as the "perch and pounce" searching method. Smaller sized prey is swallowed whole, however larger prey are torn right into pieces.

Great horned owls eat a wide selection of prey, both tiny and large. Cottontail rabbits it seems to be ~ to be a prominent food, however the owls will certainly take squirrels, shrews, jackrabbits, muskrats, mice, weasels, skunks, bag gophers, snakes, domestic cats, bats, beetles, scorpions, frogs, grasshoppers, and also a wide range of birds, from little passerines like juncos and sparrows come wild ducks, grouse, pheasants, and also even various other owls. It seems that the world is one huge smorgasbord come a an excellent horned owl.

Several hours after an owl has eaten, that is stomach creates a pellet that fur, feathers, exoskeletons, and bones - indigestible components of its meal. The owl then "upchucks" this pellet. Owls may have a favorite roost or perch spot whereby they actors out these pellets. Researchers collect the pellets and gently traction them personal in their laboratories to see what the owl has actually been eating.

Additional Notes

Some biological supply residences sell sterilized owl pellets for classroom use. These room a good way because that students to inspection what species of foods items owls eat.

Owls have actually a third, opaque eye membrane, called the nictitating membrane. This membrane help to clean the eye the material and also protect the eye from the brightness of job or foreign objects in ~ night.

Owls have four toes on every foot, like many birds. Rather of having actually three toes in front and also one in back, one owl"s external toe is reversible - it have the right to rotate so the there are two toes in front and also two in back. This help the owl fixed a perch but also creates a enlarge "mitt" as soon as it swoops down to record prey - type of like the difference in between a catcher"s mitt and a shortstop"s. In ~ night an owl needs all the advantages they deserve to muster to record prey.

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The owl"s facial disk is shaped favor a shallow bowl. This shape acts favor a parabolic dish, to help funnel sound right into the ear openings.