The Great Horned Owl is an amazing, adaptable bird. They are nocturnal, sitting high up on a roost to spot their prey. Once they’ve spotted their target, they quickly fly after it without making a sound.
They are so adept at moving silently, you might not get to see one; but I bet you have heard their hooting. They have a distinctive call that you might hear in habitat all over the U.S. Click to hear the hoots of a Great Horned Owl.
We got the chance to see this beautiful bird up close during the educational presentation Freedom Ranch Outreach folks at the Mississippi River Nature Weekend. We’ve put together some of our favorite gripping Great Horned Owl Facts for some fun reading.
#1 In the winter in colder climates, these owls may store uneaten prey in cavities where the carcass of the prey to freeze.
When they’re ready to eat it, they will defrost it with their bodies first – sort of like incubating an egg.
#2 Great Horned Owls have been known to attack a porcupine for food!
Sometimes this means they get impaled with quills. Some owls have even been found dead covered in quills. Ouch!
#3 These owls feed on birds as large as or larger than they are!
Ducks, geese, hawks, falcons, ospreys, and other owls are on their menu.
#4 They use old nests of other large birds
Some might call these owls lazy or even resourceful – instead of creating their own nests, they often use old nests of other large birds.
#5 The two large tuft of feathers on the head of the great horned owl are called plumicorns.
You heard that right. Plumicorns. This word is derived from Latin – plumi (meaning small soft feather) and corn (meaning horn), so essentially “feather horn.” Does that sound like unicorns to anyone else?
#6 It can adapt to a wide range of climates.
It can be found in far northern Canada and as far south as Uruguay and Argentina in habitats that include deserts, fields, wetlands, forests, and cities. That is one adaptable owl.
#7 The talons of the Great Horned Owl can exert between 200 and 500 pounds per square inch of pressure.
That’s enough pressure to sever the spine of their prey.
#8 Owls have very sensitive hearing.
They can hear prey as tiny as a vole moving through leaves from a distance as far as 900 feet away.
#9 The female great horned owl is larger and heavier than the male and mated pairs stay together for life.
#10 Great Horned Owls can live a long time.
The age of the oldest known wild Great Horned Owl was 28 years!