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Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl
Photographer: Billy Hunt

Great Horned Owl Range Map (N, C & S America)
Great Horned Owl Range Map
(N, C & S America)
Latin Name Bubo virginianus
Conservation Status Least Concern
Location N, C & S America
Colour Red/Brown to Dk Grey
Length 50 - 63 cm (20 - 25 inches)
Wingspan 91 - 152 cm (36 - 60 inches)
Weight 900 - 2,500 g (32 - 88 oz)
Life Expectancy Up to 13 Yrs (Wild)
Up to 30 Yrs (in Captivity)

Main Characteristics

Great Horned Owls are the largest of the American Owls and they are between 50 and 63 cms (20 - 25 inches) in length, they have a wingspan between 91 and 152 cms (36 - 60 inches) and they weigh between 900 and 2,500 g (32 - 88 oz).

The colouration of Great Horned Owls can be from reddish/brown to dark grey, depending on their geographic location. Adults have large ear tufts and large yellow eyes. They have large feet and their legs and feet are feathered up to their talons.


Great Horned Owls are found in North, Central and South America and they inhabit a variety of areas including open woodland, agricultural areas, forests, deserts, subarctic tundra and urban areas.


Great Horned Owls feed on a variety of prey including small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds.

They hunt at night from perches in open areas and they are capable of catching prey 2 - 3 times heavier than themselves.


Great Horned Owls breed from January to February and instead of building their own nest, they utilize nests that belonged to other birds or squirrels, or they use tree hollows, rocky caves, abandoned buildings or artificial platforms.

The female lays 2 - 4 eggs and incubates them for 26 - 35 days. They begin to leave the nest at 6 - 7 weeks old and can fly well at 9 - 10 weeks old.


Predators of Great Horned Owls include northern goshawks, other Great Horned Owls and humans.


Subspecies of Great Horned Owl include:

Common Great Horned Owl
(Bubo virginianus virginianus)

South American Great Horned Owl
(Bubo virginianus nacurutu)

Northern Great Horned Owl
(Bubo virginianus subarcticus)

California Great Horned Owl
(Bubo virginianus pacificus)

Coastal Great Horned Owl
(Bubo virginianus saturatus)

North Andean Great Horned Owl
(Bubo virginianus nigrescens)

Desert Great Horned Owl
(Bubo virginianus pallescens)

Yucatan Great Horned Owl
(Bubo virginianus mayensis)

Baja California Great Horned Owl
(Bubo virginianus elachistus)

Northeastern Great Horned Owl
(Bubo virginianus heterocnemis)

Northwestern Great Horned Owl
(Bubo virginianus lagophonus)

Central American Great Horned Owl
(Bubo virginianus mesembrinus)

Interesting Facts

Great Horned Owls are also known as:
Hoot Owls
Cat Owls
Winged Tiger

Similar Animals

Magellanic Horned Owl
Eurasian Eagle-Owl
Cape Eagle-Owl
Spotted Eagle-Owl
Greyish Eagle-Owl

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