great horned owl

“The Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) was first seen in the Virginia colonies, so its species name was created from the Latinised form of the name of this territory (originally named for Queen Elizabeth I, the “Virgin Queen”). The first published description was made in 1788 by Johann Gmelin. Great Horned Owls are sometimes known as Hoot Owls, Cat Owls or Winged Tiger.

Description: Great Horned Owls can vary in colour from a reddish brown to a grey or black and white. The underside is a light grey with dark bars and a white band of feathers on the upper breast. They have large, staring yellow-orange eyes, bordered in most races by an orange-buff facial disc. The name is derived from tufts of feathers that appear to be “horns” which are sometimes referred to as “ear tufts” but have nothing to do with hearing at all. The large feet are feathered to the ends of the toes, and the immature birds resemble the adults. Females are 10 to 20% larger than males.

Size: Length 46-63.5cm (18-25″) Wingspan 91-152cm (36-60″) Weight 900-1800g (32-63.5 oz)

Habits: Activity generally begins at dusk, but in some regions, may be seen in late afternoon or early morning. Both sexes may be very aggressive towards intruders when nesting.

Voice: Great Horned Owls have a large repertoire of sounds, ranging from deep booming hoots to shrill shrieks. The male’s resonant territorial call “hoo-hoo hoooooo hoo-hoo” can be heard over several miles during a still night. Both sexes hoot, but males have a lower-pitched voice than females. They give a growling “krrooo-oo” or screaming note when attacking intruders. Other sounds include a “whaaa whaaaaaa-a-a-aarrk” from disturbed birds, a catlike “MEEE-OWww”, barks, hair-raising shrieks, coos, and beak snapping. Some calls are ventriloquial. Most calling occurs from dusk to about midnight and then again just before dawn.”

via Great Horned Owl – Bubo virginianus – Information, Pictures, Sounds.

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About fromthethicket

I'm a landscape historian and professor emeritus of landscape architecture, UC Davis. I live in San Francisco.
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2 Responses to great horned owl

  1. Barbara Massey says:

    I enjoyed the post about the Great Horned Owl. Where is it seen in the park, and is there only one pair? I know it nests there, but does anyone know where?

  2. webmaster says:

    They’re sometimes heard around Stow Lake.

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