Great Horned Owl
Bubo virginianus

CLASS: Aves
ORDER: Strigiformes
FAMILY: Strigidae

SIZE:
18 - 23 inches; female usually larger than male

RANGE:
Most of North America; from Central Alaska and Labrador to the Straits of Magellan; territory 5 - 6 miles

HABITAT:
Forests or wooded areas

DIET:
Wild - Carnivorous -- Rabbits, lizards, frogs, insects, small mammals, birds and rodents

Zoo - Mice, Bird of Prey diet

ADAPTATIONS:

  • Frequent call is a series of 5 - 7 low hoots
  • Stiff flight feathers with extra fine soft feathers create silent flight
  • Camouflage -- grayish-brownish color plumage
  • Stout bill is surrounded by sensory bristles with which owl "feels" prey
  • Nocturnal -- excellent night vision
  • Eyes -- large in forward position giving them greater amount of binocular vision of any bird; owls can turn their head 270 degrees.
  • Keen sense of hearing; large outer ears are openings behind the facial discs (the large circular areas around the eyes)
  • When frightened, it spreads its feathers and fluffs up to appear larger than it really is.
  • Grasps prey with sharp talons

FACTS:

  • If our eyes where as large as an owl's in relation to its body, we would need a head the size of a washtub!
  • Pointed tufts of feathers on top of head give the owl the appearance of having horns, thus the name great horned owl.

YOUNG:
Nests in the abandoned nest of other birds, hollow trees. Eggs laid 2 - 3 days apart and hatch days apart. Both male and female take care of young.