Adventures have been shortened, canceled, or rescheduled with other life happenings. Not unlike most of us over the past 19 months. It’s long past time to share another blog about our favorite feathered friend, the owls of the world. With 198 owls left to choose from, and recent new items, let’s learn a bit about the Great Horned Owl.
Often used in storybooks, the Great Horned Owl is known for its ominous yellow-eyed stare and long ear tufts. Surprisingly those feathery tufts have nothing to do with hearing but are intimidating and easy to recognize. Their colors vary, including ruddy brown, grey, or black, and white. Adults are about two feet tall with wingspans three to five feet wide. Of note, females are up to 20% larger than their male counterparts.
Though usually quiet during the day, Great Horned Owls have a wide range of hoots and sounds including territorial calls, screaming attack noise, beak snapping, coos, and cat or dog-like noises. Its flight is particularly silent because of the soft edges of their feathers, which also act as perfect camouflage against a tree or cave.
Found throughout North and South America, those in the northern tree line tend to migrate partway south. Known to use abandoned nests in the same areas as red-tailed hawk, the Great Horned Owl enjoys treed areas, forests, city parks, deserts, and plains. Other abandoned nests, empty buildings, rocky caves, and artificial platforms are often a place to call home which they will defend until either the intruder is killed or leaves.
These birds of prey enjoy nearly anything existing in forests, grasslands, and deserts as a meal. From a high perch, the Great Horned Owl stares down the prey, then dives down to snatch it up. The large talons usually kill the prey upon being grasped. These graceful owls are also known to walk on the ground or into shallow creeks to snatch small prey like frogs, fish, or large insects. While they prefer rabbits, all other animals are fair game. Squirrels, raccoons, other birds, snakes, lizards, and crayfish.
While solitary in nature, they will spend the nesting season (January or February) with a mate and may keep the same mate up to eight years. Their young (up to four per year) start leaving the nest slowly after six weeks and start flying around nine weeks, then leave their mother in fall. In captivity, they are known to live up to 38 years though life in the wild is limited to 13 years and usually due to human-related deaths including shooting, traps, and electrocutions.
Disclaimer: The photos in this blog were obtained through CanvaPro, I only dream of taking amazing owl photos some day.
There are many additional details about the Great Horned Owl, some notable resources are:
- https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Horned_Owl/overview The Cornell Lab – All About Birds. Great Horned Owl. Accessed on October 24, 2021.
- https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Birds/Great-Horned-Owl National Wildlife Federation. Great Horned Owls. Accessed October 24, 2021.
- https://www.owlpages.com/owls/species.php?s=1220 The Owl Pages. Great Horned Owl ~ Bubo virginianus
- http://www.worldofowls.com/great-horned-owl/ The World of Owls. Great Horned Owl. Accessed October 25, 2021.
Do you have an owl you'd like to have highlighted in my next owl blog? Send me an email at email@example.com. I'd love to hear from you!