Great Horned Owl

Bubo virginianus
Great horned owls nest in trees/Photo courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach
The great horned owl is native to the Americas, and is one of the areas most widespread owl species.  Its diet consists of mammals such as mice, voles, weasels, rabbits, squirrels and rats, but will often take larger prey including skunks and other owls. Like most owls, the great horned owl hunts at night, utilizing good eyesight and excellent hearing. Once its prey has been located it will silently swoop onto the animal, using its sharp talons to quickly grasp and kill it. Great horned owls have many different calls. They bark, rattle, growl, shriek, whoop and hoot. Their ear tufts, or horns, have nothing to do with hearing. It is thought that the tufts are a form of camouflage in that it changes the shape of the bird as it sits in a tree. It is thought that the tufts appear to be a part of a splintered tree branch. Learn more about this nocturnal hunter...

Facts About Great Horned Owl

Eats skunks and other large prey, including other owls

“Horns” are actually feathers

Widespread throughout North America