Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl is one of the most common owls in North America. Although you might not know it as owls are tough to spot! They can be found in all of Oregon’s habitats, from forests to cities to backyards to deserts. This owl is a fierce predator, taking other raptors like Osprey and Peregrine Falcons as well as mice.

Great Horned Owl, photo by Scott Carpenter

Size & Shape: 22″, wingspan 45″. Formidable owl, block-headed with prominent ear tufts.

Color: Mottled grayish-brown, yellow eyes, brownish facial disc, white throat, finely barred lower breast, belly.

Behavior: Hunts mostly at night, watching, listening for prey from perch, then pursuing, capturing it with talons. Diet extremely varied, mostly small mammals but also birds, large insects, cold-blooded animals including fish. Does not build nest, uses snags, cavities, nests of other species, especially Red-tailed Hawk. One of earliest-nesting birds, lays eggs as early as January.

Habitat: Adaptable. Woodlands, meadows, farmlands, city parks.

Field Marks: Large ear tufts, mottled gray-brown overall, barred lower breast and belly.

Songs & Calls: Listen here.

Fun Facts: Great Horned Owls are powerful, fearless hunters. They have been recorded preying on animals as large as Great Blue Herons and skunks.

Scientific Name: Bubo virginianus