Great Horned Owl

Bubo virginianus

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  • Great Horned Owl |  Photo: Jim Peaco, NPS
  • Great Horned Owl |  Photo: Jim Peaco, NPS
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Great Horned Owl Photo Gallery

Basic Information

Order

Strigiformes

Family

Strigidae

Size

Great Horned Owls stand between 18 and 25 inches tall.

Lifespan

up to 28 years

Weight

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) facts, habitat, range, owl pictures and bird watching tips to help you identify the bird of prey.

Diet

Great Horned Owls are mainly prey on small mammals, but will also eat other birds, reptiles and amphibians.

Behavior

Aerial Dive

Range

Nationwide

Nest Placement

Tree

Number of Offspring

1–4 Eggs

Egg Description

Off white with a rough surface

Condition at Hatching

Feeble, eyes closed

Social Status

Solitary

Wingspan

39.75–57.25 in

What does the Great Horned Owl look like?

Great Horned Owls are large birds of prey. They have rounded heads, a tannish red facial disc with big bright yellow eyes and prominent ear tufts. Overall they are a blotchy gray brown black with a white patch on the throat. Their chests and bellies are heavily barred. Pattern and color tones vary regionally.

Great Horned Owl Habitat

Open Forests

Great Horned Owl Facts

Great Horned Owls are fierce birds of prey that can easily kill prey much larger than themselves. Their sharp talons require nearly 30 pounds of force to open when clenched. This death grip effortlessly severs the spinal cord of prey. They have extremely large eyes with large pupils that enable amazing night vision. Their eyes do not move in the socket, however they can swivel their heads 180 degrees making it easy to look directly behind them. Female Great Horned Owls are larger than males, but have a smaller voice box, making their stammering hoot calls a higher pitch. They are primarily nocturnal but are often observed during twilight hikes.

See also