The great horned owl is a nocturnal creature- most active at night- just like other owls. There are heaps of interesting great horned owl facts for kids just waiting to be explored. It is one of the most commonly spotted owls in America and can be easily distinguished due to the feather tufts on its head. These tufts closely resemble horns or cat’s ears. Most nature experts believe it has horn shaped tufts and this is the reason behind its unusual name. It is known by the scientific name Bubo Virginianus. It is sometimes also referred as the ‘tiger owl’ or the ‘hoot owl’.
Birds of Prey
The great horned owl, like all owls, belongs to the category known as the ‘birds of prey’. Birds of prey hunt other animals and feed on them. They are also known as raptors. Raptor comes from the Latin word ‘rapere’ which means to seize. They possess excellent vision, keen hearing and thus, have strong hunting capabilities. They strike from above and often capture their prey in one fast swoop. They are capable of carrying animals that are heavier than themselves and they prey on a large variety of creatures.
Photo Credit: Brendan Lally
What Do Great Horned Owls Eat?
The diet of great horned owls usually consists of the following:
- Domestic birds
- even other smaller owls.
Where Do Great Horned Owls Live?
The great horned owl is mostly found in the Americas. It has been observed in the North American tundra region all the way down to the southern tip of the South American continent – which is known as the ‘Tierra del Fuego’. However, there are some regions in the Americas that it does not reside in. Most notable among them is the Amazon Basin.
The great horned owl can live in very different habitats because it is very adaptable to its surroundings. This is probably due to the fact that it can prey on a wide variety of creatures. It can be found in a variety of environments like deserts, deciduous forests, tundra, tropical rainforests, prairies, pampas, mangroves, mountainous regions etc.
Photo Credit: Harvey Barrison
What are the Nesting Habits of These Owls?
The male owl usually courts the female owl with his call. The great horned owl usually nests in caves, cliff ledges, artificial nests, tree holes, stumps, rocky outcroppings or in nests which have been abandoned by other huge birds like red-tailed hawks or ravens.
Female great horned owls lay about one to four eggs, though in rare cases, even six eggs. Traditionally, the female owl will incubate the eggs while the male owl hunts for food for his mate. These owls are fiercely protective of their young ones and often attack humans or animals which get close to their nests.
The young ones usually stay with their parents for a period of six months before moving on. They usually spend a year on their own before finding a mate for themselves.
Why the Great Horned Owl Needs Protection?
They may be excellent hunters and their ability to adapt to practically any environment gives them an advantage. But young and inexperienced great horned owls are often captured by other excellent hunters like coyotes, vultures, foxes, crows and other raptors.
Photo Credit: Andrea Westmoreland
Interesting Facts About The Great Horned Owl:
- In humid areas, these owls have a dark plumage whereas in arid areas, they have a lighter colored plumage.
- Their talons are deadly and can sever the spine of their often larger-sized prey.
- The female owl is larger in size than the male.
- The male owl has a deeper voice than the female.
Photo Credit: Anita Ritenour
More Information about Other Owls
Great Horned Owl
Learn more About Great Horned Owls