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Great Horned Owl - Bubo virginianus

Great Horned Owl


 Kingdom: Animalia
 Phylum: Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Strigiformes
 Family: Strigidae
 Genus: Bubo
ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least ConcernLeast Concern


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.


mapThe great horned owl has a very large range.
It is found in forests throughout most of Canada, the United States, and Mexico. It is also found in Central and South America. The great horned owl is found throughout New Hampshire.


The great horned owl lives in woodlands, along cliffs and canyons, and at the edge of forests.


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; it rips larger prey up into smaller pieces that it 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 2-3 eggs. She raises 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 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.


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.


Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Nathan Pieplow cc logo