Great Horned Owl

Bubo virginianus




Barn Owls, Typical Owls (Tytonidae & Strigidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Dull white

Number of Eggs:

1 - 5

Incubation Days:

28 - 35

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

20 - 60 feet above ground.

Nest Material:

Abandoned nest of large bird in cavities, buildings, ledges.





Great Horned Owl: Very large owl with dark brown, gray-brown mottled upperparts and dark barred underparts; distinct ear tufts and rufous facial disk; throat and upper breast are white and may have dark spots. Sexes are similar but female is larger. Northern birds are paler and grayer. Feeds primarily on rodents, but also waterfowl, and occasionally amphibians and reptiles. Strong, silent, direct, flap and glide flight.

Range and Habitat

Great Horned Owl: Commonly found throughout the forest habitats of North, Central, and South America, ranging from the Arctic regions of Canada to the Straits of Magellan. Preferred habitats include coniferous, mixed, and deciduous woodlands, areas along cliffs and rocky canyons, and forest openings.

Breeding and Nesting

Great Horned Owl: One to five dull white eggs are laid in an abandoned nest made by hawks or crows. Eggs are incubated for 28 to 35 days, mostly by the female.

Foraging and Feeding

Great Horned Owl: Hunts primarily at night, preying on rabbits, woodchucks, mice, rats, squirrels, skunks, ducks, quail, and occasionally geese or turkeys. Like many owls, it eats small prey whole and regurgitates indigestible parts such as hair, feathers, and bones in the form of pellets.


Great Horned Owl: Male gives a territorial call "hoo-hoo-hoooooo-hoo-hoo" that can be heard over several miles during a still night. Both sexes hoot, but males have a lower-pitched voice than females. Also gives a growling "krrooo-oo" or screaming note when attacking intruders. Other sounds include "whaaa whaaaaaa-a-a-aarrk" from disturbed birds, a catlike "MEEE-OWww", barks, hair-raising shrieks, coos, and beak snapping.

Similar Species

Great Horned Owl: Long-Eared Owl is smaller, slimmer, has a darker throat, and has tufts set closer to the middle of head.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The upper front part of a bird.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X