Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl 


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The great horned owl is highly recognizable by the feather tufts on its head that resemble horns. The upper parts of the owl's body are sooty brown with gray-brown mottling, and their darks under parts make its white throat stand out.


The great horned owl spends the majority of its time hunting. The owl can see during the day, but has even better vision at night. The silent flight of this owl can be attributed to its loose, soft feathers. These two factors, and the fact that its prey is most active at night, make it most advantageous for the great horned owl to hunt at night.

Food Habits

The great horned owl is a bird of prey that feeds on a variety of different animals. It does the majority of its hunting at night, preferring to feed on small mammals such as rabbits, mice, rats and squirrels. They are also known to feed on birds such as ducks, game birds, quail, and occasionally geese or turkeys.  Like other birds of prey, great horned owls regurgitate a small pellet containing undigested bones and hair after they eat.


The courtship of the great horned owl usually begins in late January or early February. The mating rituals of the owl include the singing of love songs between the female and male. After mating the owls will use the abandoned nest of another bird, usually a hawk or crow. The eggs usually number two to three, and rarely as many as five. The great horned owl raises one family each year. The male and the female will both incubate the eggs, which will hatch in approximately four weeks. The great horned owl is also known to be a very protective parent, guarding the young until they mature fully and can leave the family (at approximately one to two months old).

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
University of Michigan Museum of Zoology Animal Diversity Web