Great horned owl (Bubo Virginianus) is the most wide-ranging species of owl in America. Its feet are covered with feathers and are second longest in size among all owl species. It is the second heaviest species of owl in North America. Unlike other owls, great horned owls are not migratory at all. It makes “whoo-hoo-H’hoo” kind of sounds.
It has a robust body and shaped like a barrel. It has horn-like tufts of feather on top of its head and hence its name. These horns are called plumicorns. Its bill has metal-gray color. The plumage of great horned owl is mottled brown with dark brown horizontal markings on its feathers.
Great horned owl can grow up to a size of 18 to 25 inches and weighs around 2 to 5.5 pounds. The size of its tail is 6.9 to 9.9 inches. Its bill is 1.3 to 2 inches long.
On average, it has a lifespan of 5 to 15 years. Its maximum age ever recorded is 29 years.
It lays a clutch of about 1 to 5 eggs.
Great horned owl is widely distributed in North America. But it is also present toward south including Peru, Argentina and Bolivia. It is one of the most adaptable owl species.
It roosts in the forests of coniferous and deciduous trees, subarctic tundra, mangrove swamp woodland, tropical rainforests, pampas and mountains. In California, this owl perches at an altitude of about 6,900 feet. It can perch as high as 10,800 feet in the Andean Mountains. Normally, it roosts on large trees and very hard to spot thanks to its natural color that camouflages the bird.
The great horned owl diet includes small rodents such as voles, rats, mice, rabbits and hares. They also eat reptiles and amphibians. Great horned owl begins hunting its prey from a maximum distance of about 300 feet. It can fly at a speed of about 40 mph.
North American Eagle and other owls are the only known predators of these owls. If unprotected, their eggs are often eaten away by animals like American black bears, ravens, Virginia Opossum and raccoons.
There are 20 subspecies of great horned owl.
Other Names: Tiger Owl, Hoot Owl