Great Horned Owl Facts

Owl Facts

Physical Traits

owl faceGreat Horned Owls are found in all kinds of habitats: backyards, deserts, forests and even in the Arctic!

In January or February, the male and female will call to each other as part of their “dating” or courtship.

Young owls can fly when they are about 9 to 10 weeks old and are then called fledglings.

They weigh between 3 and 4 pounds.

Adults are between 18 and 25 inches or 46 to 63 centimeters.

Females are larger than males.

Then flying, their wingspan (measured from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other wing), can be approximately twice their size.

Experts think they can live to be about 12 or 13 years old in the wild.

Owls in the family of the great horned owl live around 15 years in the wild and over 40 years in captivity.



owl perchedLarge yellow eyes help them see at night.

They can’t move their eyes but they can turn their heads almost all of the way around (270 degrees) to see.

Like most birds, owls have four toes. But, one of the toes can swivel forward or backwards so that it can hold onto things with three toes in front, one in back or two facing frontward and backward.

Sharp, curved talons are used to grab prey.

The front edge of each wing has comb-like bristles to muffle the wings’ flapping noise helping the owls to silently sneak up on prey.

Their ears are holes on the side of their heads, right behind their eyes.

The ears are off-centered; one is a little higher than the other. The difference in ear height helps the owls to judge the distance of sound.

The feather tufts or “horns” are simple decorations to make the birds more fierce looking.


Hunting Habits

owl in treeTheir main predators are other Great Horned Owls.

They are nocturnal; they hunt at night and sleep during the day.

A few hours after eating, they throw up pellets of fur, feathers, bones and other undigested parts of their meals.

They are birds of prey. Their food is alive when they catch it.

They eat mice, squirrels, rabbits, skunks, crows, herons, other owls, ducks, frogs, some fish and even some domestic cats.

They swallow small prey whole, but will tear larger animals apart using their talons and beaks.

Great Horned Owls will puff out their feathers to make themselves look larger and more fierce.

The loud hoo-hoo hoooooo hoo-hoo can be heard for miles during a still night but they will not call while hunting. They don’t want their prey to know where they are.