Great Horned Owl

Bubo virginianus

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  • Great Horned Owl |  Photo: Jim Peaco, NPS
  • Great Horned Owl |  Photo: Jim Peaco, NPS by v8.6m

Great Horned Owl Photo Gallery

Basic Information






Great Horned Owls stand between 18 and 25 inches tall.


up to 28 years


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


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


Aerial Dive



Nest Placement


Number of Offspring

1–4 Eggs

Egg Description

Off white with a rough surface

Condition at Hatching

Feeble, eyes closed

Social Status



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