Monday, January 7, 2019

Great Horned Owl

(Bubo virginianus)

One morning in March of 2016, I read on facebook that a pair of Great Horned Owls was seen on the lake path. Being a photographer and a person who loves birds, I went to the path with my husband. We were pleasantly surprised by what we saw.  Sitting high up in a tree was a mother Great Horned Owl and two young. We watched them in wonder. Since it was really cold out, the young stuck close together, their feathers puffed out. The mother protected her young by keeping an eye on them.

 Staying far back and being as quiet as possible, I took a wide variety of photos. I couldn't help myself! I so loved how they communicated and took care of each other.

How big are the Great Horned Owls? From head to the end of their tail, they are 22 inches long. From wing tip to wing tip, they are 44 inches. They are one of the largest owls in North America.

On top of their head seems to be ears but they are not ears.  Their ears are on each side of their heads, much like ours are. Although we can see our ears, the Great Horned Owl's ears are under feathers. So, what's sticking up on top of their heads that look like ears? They are feathers that help make the birds look larger than they are. This helps them when hiding from their predators.

Have you ever heard an owl hoot? I haven't. When I saw these beautiful owls, they were quiet. Never letting out a sound but when they do hoot, they can be heard for many miles.

Here is the male Great Horned Owl who was sitting high up in a tree maybe 50 feet away. He was a beauty. He just sat there just as the female and young stayed on their branches.

Owls do not have teeth. To eat, they either eat the prey whole or use their talons and beak to break it down. So, what do they eat? Their diet is enormous in that they eat American Coots, mice, squirrels, and other small animals, rabbits, skunks, geese and even other raptors. I was surprised to read that they also eat house cats, loons, mergansers, owls and hawks. Survival of the fittest, as they say.

As is commonly known, owls are active during the night as they have amazing night vision. Each time I have seen an owl, they are always sitting in trees. Not one has taken flight. Someday maybe I'll see that. Otherwise, it is what it is.

Just as we choose a spouse, the owl chooses one and is mated for life. She is larger than the male.

There is so much more to learn about the Great Horned Owl. If you're interested, check it out. Otherwise, this is a window of knowledge. I hope you enjoyed it.

Coming next week: learn about orchids

Thank you for visiting!



Alderfer, J. (2013). National Geographic Kids: Bird Guide of North America.

Gregory, J. (2013). Nature's Children: Owls.

Sibley, D.A. (2001). National Audubon Society: The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior.

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