Great Horned Owl
Bubo virginianus

ORDER: Strigiformes
FAMILY: Strigidae

18 - 23 inches; female usually larger than male

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

Forests or wooded areas

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

Zoo - Mice, Bird of Prey diet


  • 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


  • 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.

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.