The quintessential storybook owl, the Great Horned Owl is one of the most majestic owl species out there. It is known for its deep hooting vocalization, its intimidating yellow-eyed stare and earlike long tufts. These tufts give them their name ‘Great Horned’. In this article on Great Horned Owl facts, we are going to learn how it looks like, where it lives and what it eats. To be honest, this article will be incomplete as there will be much more to say and we will cover the remaining in a different article. So, let us begin…
Scientific Classification of Great Horned Owl:
|Binomial Name||Bubo virginianus|
Great Horned Owl Facts: 1-5 | Description
1. The Great Horned Owl, in the Central America and South America, is the heaviest known extant owl species. However, in North America, it holds the second position with the heaviest owl being the Snowy Owl.
2. The Great Horned Owl is designed for camouflage. The underpart (including the chest area) of the owl is usually lighter in color with horizontal barrings that are brown in color. The upper wings as well as the upper parts of the bird are usually mottled brown in color and have heavy and dark complex markings.
3. A white patch is often found on the neck that may run down as a streak all the way down to the middle of the breast.
4. The overall color of the Great Horned Owl can vary from region to region. In particular, those in the subarctic region have light-buff and washed out color. Those living in North America’s Pacific Coast, in most of South America and in Central America are known for having dark brownish color with blackish blotching.
5. The skin of the Great Horned Owl is black and so are its feet. The feet are however always obscured by the feathers. The feathers on the feet of this species are second-longest among all known owl species.
Great Horned Owl Facts: 6-10 | Description
6. The talons and the bill of the Great Horned Owl are of dark gunmetal-gray color. The facial disc (which is present in all Great Horned Owls) can vary in color depending on the region. The color ranges from gray to brown to reddish. The facial disc is demarcated by a dark rim that eventually culminate into blacking and bold side brackets.
7. The so-called ‘horns’ of the species are actually tufts of feathers that are technically known as ‘plumicorns’. The functions of the tuft are not yet completely understood by scientists. While scientists actually differ in view about the function of the tufts, they actually agree on the fact that the tufts do not have any role or function in hearing.
8. It is however theorized that these tufts are designed for providing visual cues in both socio-sexual interactions and territorial interactions with other owls.
9. Coming to the physical characteristics, the Great Horned Owl have a barrel-shaped and heavy body build. They have very broad wings and have a large head. It is interesting to note that the size of the species can vary from region to region. For instance, those living in California and Texas are the smallest while those living in Ontario and Alaska are the largest.
10. The average length of the adult Great Horned Owl is 22 inches or 55 centimeters but it can range between 17 inches to 25 inches (43 centimeters to 64 centimeters). The average wingspan of the species is 122 centimeters or 48 inches but it can range anywhere between 91 centimeters to 153 centimeters.