New Hampshire PBS
   share this page
NATUREWORKS!
Home     About     Watch     Nature Files     Teachers     Order DVD     Contact

Great Horned Owl - Bubo virginianus

Characteristics
Range
Habitat
Diet
Life Cycle
Behavior

 Classification

 Phylum:
Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Strigiformes
 Family: Strigidae
 Genus: Bubo


Great Horned Owl
ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least ConcernLeast Concern
    Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Nathan Pieplow cc logo
  Characteristics

Great Horned OwlThe great horned owl is probably best known for the large tufts of feathers on its head that look like horns.

Great Horned OwlIt has big cat-like eyes and brown white, gray, and black markings that look like the bark of a tree. These markings help camouflage it in the woods.
It has a wing span of over four feet and it is about two feet in height.

  Range

mapThe great horned owl has a very large range. It can be found in forests in North, Central and South America from Arctic tree regions in the north to the Straits of Magellan in the south.




  Habitat
The great horned owl lives in woodlands, along cliffs and canyons and at the edge of forests.
  Diet
Great Horned OwlThe great horned owl is nocturnal. It hunts small mammals like mice, rabbits, squirrels and skunks. It also eats birds like ducks and quail. It eats small prey whole, larger prey it rips up into smaller pieces that is can swallow. It regurgitates or throws up the undigested parts, like bones and fur, in owl pellets. You can often tell what an owl has eaten by looking at these pellets.
  Life Cycle
Great Horned OwlJanuary and early February is mating time for the great horned owl. The male and female call to each other during courtship. They use the abandoned nests of other birds, usually hawks or crows. The female lays two to three eggs. She will raise one family each year. Both the male and female incubate the eggs and provide food for the owlets.

Great Horned OwlThe eggs hatch in about four weeks. Great horned owls are very protective parents and will attack intruders. The young owls leave the nest when they are between one and two months old and can fly when they are nine to ten weeks old.

  Behavior

Great Horned OwlThe great horned owl's excellent hearing and eyesight help it hunt at night. Its loosely-packed feathers make it almost silent when it flies. This makes it easier to sneak up on its prey.














 


Advertisement: