Click on the language to view common names.
Common Names in English:
big hoot owl, cat owl, chicken owl, Eagle Owl, Great Horned Owl, Hoot Owl, horned owl, king owl, Virginia horned owl
Common Names in French:
Grand-Duc D'am, grand-duc d'AmÃ©rique, grand-duc d'Amérique
Common Names in German:
Common Names in Japanese:
Common Names in Russian:
Common Names in Spanish:
About 18 to 25 inches long, with a wingspan of 36 to 60 inches. Adults
weigh about 48 ounces
Great Horned Owls range from 18-25 inches in height . They have a wing span of 35-55 inches. Females are usually larger than males. They are the heaviest and most powerful American owl, and second in size only to the rare Great Grey Owl.
The Great horned owl occupies a wider variety of habitats and has a distribution greater than any other owl. It is found in the northern boreal forests , the rainforest of Central America and the Amazon Basin , and coastal mangrove forests and desert regions of both North and South America.
Vegetation: montaine evergreen forests, tropical lowland evergreen forest, tropical deciduous forests, gallery forests, tropical lowland evergreen forest, pine-oak forests, arid lowland scrubs, arid montane scrubs • Maximum Elevation: 4,400 meters • Foraging Strata: Canopy • Center of Abundance: Lower subtropical: lowlands, lower than 500 m.; subtropics. • Sensitivity to Disturbance: Low
Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 2,911 meters (0 to 9,551 feet).
List of Habitats
- 1 Forest
- 1.5 Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
- 1.6 Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
- 1.9 Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane
- 3 Shrubland
- 3.5 Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
- 3.7 Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical High Altitude [more info]
It hunts mostly during the night, perching
on a lower tree
other perch) with a good view
. When it sees a food item, it swoops
it. Its diet
includes small mammals (especially rabbits
and rodents), birds, small vertebrates
, and occasionally
some fish and insects.
A variety of animals are included in the owl's diet such as shrews, rabbits, squirrels, skunks, hawks, fish and frogs . Distinct preferences for rabbits, rats , and mice. Other prey : opossums, muskrats, woodchucks, squirrels, gophers, and meadow mice. Known to kill: porcupines, cats, skunks, and large birds like ducks, geese, swans, grouse, turkey, and chicken. When prey is limited, they will take many kinds of hawks, owls, snakes , frogs, lizards, crayfish, and other kinds of fish and large insects.
Prey is taken to a regular feeding perch or the nest to be eaten, usually in whole or large pieces . Twelve to eighteen hours later a pellet is regurgitated. Along with providing the bird with a means of getting rid of the undigestible parts of its prey, the regurgitation of the pellet scrapes off bacteria growing in the owl's throat .
The breeding season
begins in mid-December, peaks in mid-January
to March, and extends until late April. The Great Horned Owl nests
in a variety of wooded habitats
, on top of nests abandoned by animals
such as hawks, crows, or squirrels. The female lays
that she incubates for 26-35 days. The male feeds
while she is on the eggs. The young are semi-altricial, and fledge
about 35 days after hatching
. Both adults
care for the young while
they remain in the nest.
Great Horned Owls do not build nests, but they will use the old nests of hawks, herons, eagles, and crows. They mostly use nests that were used by the red tailed hawk and regularly take over active nest of these species. They may also use an abandoned nest of a red-tailed hawk, crow, bald eagle, or heron located at a height of 15-79 feet. A nest is rarely used more than once and any damage done to the nest is not repaired. Owlets have been known to be raised in the corner of an active bald eagles nest. There are usually 2-3 eggs laid from early January to February. After hatching the young owls often spend 10 days to 2 weeks on the nest protected by their parents until they are capable of fight.
They raise one brood of young per year. Two to five eggs are laid on successive days with incubation beginning with the laying of the first egg. The eggs are incubated 34-36 days.
The great horned owl reaches maturity at two years. While it is difficult to determine the longevity of this bird in the wild, in captivity they often live past twenty years.
Clutch Size: 1-4 Length of Incubation: 26-35 days Days to Fledge: 35 Number of Broods: 1
Great horned owls are typical nocturnal hunters, though occasionally they are seen in daylight. When owls are not hunting, they are anything but silent. They have blood curdling screams, hoots, whistles, coughs and screeches. Their night sounds are sometimes territorial warnings to other males or, more often, mating calls .
The call of this owl is a long series of hooo's. The sound of the hoot of the male owl is deep while the sound of the female is at a higher pitch. The males usually give four to five hoots; females (lower in pitch) six to eight hoots.
- Whittaker & Margulis,1978
- C. Linnaeus, 1758
- (Hatschek, 1888) Cavalier-Smith, 1983
- Grobben, 1908
- (Haeckel, 1874) Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Bateson, 1885
- Cuvier, 1812
- Jawed Vertebrates
- Goodrich, 1930
- Linnaeus, 1758
- Gauthier, 1986
- (C. Linnaeus, 1758)
- Pycraft, 1900
- Seebohm, 1890
- Order: Strigiformes () - Wagler, 1830
- Superorder: Falconimorphae () - Seebohm, 1890
- Cohort: Neognathae () - Pycraft, 1900
- Infraclass: Aves () - (C. Linnaeus, 1758)
- Subclass: Avialae () - Gauthier, 1986
- Class: Aves () - Linnaeus, 1758
- Superclass: Tetrapoda () - Goodrich, 1930
- Infraphylum: Gnathostomata () - auct. - Jawed Vertebrates
- Subphylum: Vertebrata () - Cuvier, 1812 - Vertebrates
- Phylum: Chordata () - Bateson, 1885 - Chordates
- Infrakingdom: Chordonia () - (Haeckel, 1874) Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Branch: Deuterostomia () - Grobben, 1908
- Subkingdom: Bilateria () - (Hatschek, 1888) Cavalier-Smith, 1983
- Kingdom: Animalia () - C. Linnaeus, 1758 - animals
Bubo virginianus (Gmelin, 1788) • Bubo virginianus (J. F. Gmelin, 1788)
Status: Accepted Name
Last scrutiny: 28-Sep-2005
Long-Eared Owl, Great Gray Owl
Members of the genus Bubo
ZipcodeZoo has pages for 45 species and subspecies in this genus:
B. africanus (Spotted Eagle Owl) · B. africanus africanus (Spotted Eagle Owl) · B. ascalaphus (Pharaoh Eagle Owl) · B. bengalensis (Indian Eagle Owl) · B. blakistoni (Blakiston's Fish Owl) · B. blakistoni blakistoni (Blakiston's Fish-Owl) · B. bubo (Northern Eagle Owl) · B. bubo bengalensis (Indian Eagle Owl) · B. capensis (Cape Eagle Owl) · B. capensis capensis (Cape Eagle Owl) · B. cinerascens (Greyish Eagle-Owl) · B. coromandus (Dusky Eagle Owl) · B. coromandus coromandus (Dusky Eagle Owl) · B. flavipes (Tawny Fish Owl) · B. ketupu (Slender-Tailed Nightjar) · B. lacteus (Milky Eagle Owl) · B. leucostictus (Akun Eagle Owl) · B. magellanicus (Lesser Horned Owl) · B. nipalensis (Forest Eagle-Owl) · B. nipalensis nipalensis (Spot-Bellied Eagle Owl) · B. philippensis (Philippine Eagle Owl) · B. philippensis philippensis (Philippine Eagle Owl) · B. poensis (Fraser's Eagle Owl) · B. poensis poensis (Fraser's Eagle-Owl) · B. scandiaca (Snowy Owl) · B. scandiacus (Snowy Owl) · B. shelleyi (Shelley's Eagle Owl) · B. sumatrana (Barred Eagle-Owl) · B. sumatranus (Barred Eagle Owl) · B. sumatranus sumatranus (Barred Eagle-Owl) · B. virginianus (Virginia Horned Owl) · B. virginianus algistus (Great Horned Owl) · B. virginianus elachistus (Great Horned Owl) · B. virginianus heterocnemis (Great Horned Owl) · B. virginianus lagophonus (Great Horned Owl) · B. virginianus mayensis (Great Horned Owl) · B. virginianus nacurutu (American Horned Owl) · B. virginianus occidentalis (Great Horned Owl) · B. virginianus pacificus (Great Horned Owl) · B. virginianus pallescens (Great Horned Owl) · B. virginianus saturatus (Great Horned Owl) · B. virginianus virginianus (Great Horned Owl) · B. virginianus wapacuthu (Great Horned Owl) · B. vosseleri (Usambara Eagle Owl) · B. zeylonensis (Brown Fish Owl)
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Accessed through GBIF Data Portal November 26, 2007:
- Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility, North West Territories and Nunavut Bird Checklist, Canada
- Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility, Ontario Nest Records
- Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility, Provincial Museum of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada. Birds
- Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility, Royal British Columbia Museum
- Biodiversity Heritage Library NamebankID: 9703
- Catalogue of Life Accepted Name Code: ITS-686895
- Global Biodiversity Information Facility Taxonkey: 2481930
- Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Taxonomic Serial Number (TSN): 177884
- IUCN ID: 196206
- Natural Heritage Network Species Identifier: ABNSB05010
- Zipcode Zoo Species Identifier: 257