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Bird Identification


Great Horned Owl

Bubo virginianus L 22" (56cm)

play song/call of the great horned owl

Photo by Maslowski Wildlife Productions.

The great horned owl is one of the most widespread and abundant owls in the world. It is easily recognized by its massive size, ear tufts, and white throat. A generalist, the great horned can be found in a wide variety of habitats, including agricultural areas, deserts, marshes, and most woodlands. Its primary needs are large trees and old crow and hawk nests. It is a perch and drop hunter that favors wood edges where it can watch for medium-sized mammals such as rabbits. It is one of the earliest nesters, laying eggs in January over much of its range. Its most common call, heard during courtship in winter, is a series of five deep, resonant hoots. For males, the pattern is hoo hoo-hoo hoo hoo, the last two notes spaced out. For females the pattern is hoo hoo-hoo-hoo hoo, the middle three notes rather rapid.

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