Great Horned Owl 
(Bubo virginianus)  

Quick Facts

The Great Horned Owl is sometimes called a "night tiger."

Owls can't turn their heads all the way around - only
about 180

This is one of the only animals that will hunt a skunk. 

One widespread superstition is that an owl's hoot warns of misfortune. Well, maybe if you're a mouse!

The flat disk of feathers around an owl's eyes are thought to concentrate sounds.

The Great Horned Owl is closely related to the Eagle Owl - the world's largest owl.

The Great Horned Owl is the largest North American owl.  This bird's "horns" aren't horns at all—they are tufts of feathers.  The Great Horned Owl has several nicknames, including "night tiger" and "flying bobcat."

This owl is about 56 cm (22 in) long and weighs approximately 1-2.5 kg (2-5 lbs).  It has yellow eyes in a large head, a short tail, and thick, mottled brown, rust, and white plumage.  The wings are long and fringed.  Owls, including the Great Horned Owl, have special feathers that allow them to fly silently.

Great Horned Owls are found throughout most of North and South America.  They are very adaptable, and will live in forests, deserts, prairies, farmland, and low mountain areas.  They can even be found in metropolitan and suburban areas.

Hunting primarily at night, the Great Horned Owl's diet consists of rodents and other small mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and occasionally fish.  The Great Horned Owl is one of the only animals that will hunt a skunk.

The breeding season is in spring and early summer.  The female owl will lay from 1 to 5 round eggs.  The parents will to take care for the owlets for 4 months or more.

An owl's thick feathers help it stay warm in the winter, so it is usually a year-round resident.  Great Horned Owls that live in desert areas and snowy areas have paler plumage than those found in forested regions.

[ more on Great Horned Owls]


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Great Horned Owl 
Prepared for IWRC by:

Kieran Lindsey, New Mexico, USA
Joe MacLeod, Manitoba, Canada

Photos by:

Marge Gibson, Wisconsin, USA