A couple of months ago in the evening we would hear the hooting of an owl, so we decided to go on a little walk toward the sound and low and behold we found her…
It seemed each evening she would end up in the same tree…
Then we noticed an old nest a couple of trees down. A couple of weeks ago I decided to look for her again and found her IN the nest and last week see what I spotted…
A fuzzy, wuzzy little owlet!!
Great Horned Owls are fierce predators that can take large prey, including raptors such as Ospreys, Peregrine Falcons, Prairie Falcons, and other owls. They also eat much smaller items such as rodents, frogs, and scorpions.
When clenched, a Great Horned Owl’s strong talons require a force of 28 pounds to open. The owls use this deadly grip to sever the spine of large prey.
If you hear an agitated group of cawing American Crows, they may be mobbing a Great Horned Owl. Crows may gather from near and far and harass the owl for hours. The crows have good reason, because the Great Horned Owl is their most dangerous predator.
Even though the female Great Horned Owl is larger than her mate, the male has a larger voice box and a deeper voice. Pairs often call together, with audible differences in pitch.
Great Horned Owls are covered in extremely soft feathers that insulate them against the cold winter weather and help them fly very quietly in pursuit of prey. Their short, wide wings allow them to maneuver among the trees of the forest.
Great Horned Owls have large eyes, pupils that open widely in the dark, and retinas containing many rod cells for excellent night vision. Their eyes don’t move in their sockets, but they can swivel their heads more than 180 degrees to look in any direction. They also have sensitive hearing, thanks in part to facial disc feathers that direct sound waves to their ears.
The oldest Great Horned Owl on record was at least 28 years old when it was found in Ohio in 2005.
Great Gray Owls have a talent for detecting and seizing prey under thick layers of snow and ice. One Great Gray Owl reportedly plunged through a crust of snow thick enough to support a 175-pound person!
Great Gray Owls inhabit boreal forests in Canada, northern Europe, and Siberia. Their North American range also includes limited areas of forest in the Cascades, Sierra Nevada, Rocky Mountains, and smaller ranges in the mountain states. Great Gray Owls prefer forest habitat adjacent to open meadows, bogs, or muskeg.
Great Gray Owls feed almost exclusively on small mammals, especially voles and pocket gophers. They usually hunt by perching on branches or treetops, watching and listening for prey below. They also hunt by ear alone, hovering above snow and plunging down to take prey under the surface. They fly with slow, deep, wingbeats. Great Gray Owls often hunt actively during daylight.
Great Gray Owls have large heads in the shape of a half dome, and relatively long, wedge-shaped tails. They have a large round facial disc, with several narrow concentric rings of white and gray around each eye. Their body plumage is mostly gray, with fine irregular stippling of gray, white, and some brown. Their eyes are yellow, and appear small within the owl’s wide facial disc and massive head. Great Gray Owls have distinct white “bowties” under their chins; the bird’s Russian common name, “Bearded Owl,” refers to this marking.
Measuring up to about 32 inches from head to tail, Great Gray Owls are the largest owls in North America. Males and females have similar plumage but females are larger than males. Their massive appearance, however, is deceiving. Most of the Great Gray Owl’s apparent bulk comes from its fluffy plumage and large head. Its body weight, at about 2.5 pounds, is less than that of the Great Horned Owl and the Snowy Owl.