La. strix, strigis owl
La. forma form, shape,
La. bubo eagle-owl
Largest North American Owl, about two feet long with a four foot or greater wing
span. Barred with varying brown and gray tones mixed with white on its
John L. Ridgway
White throat patch. Ear tufts give the illusion of horns. Long curved talons.
Large intimidating yellow and black forward facing eyes are immovable requiring
it to turn its head so much it seems it might twist off.
Inhabits woodlands, scattered groves in
open ranges, deserts, canyons, farms, or even towns from the as far north as
there are trees in Alaska and Canada, and throughout North and Central America,
to the Straits of Magellan at the southern tip of South America.
Often claims other hawk, eagle, or crow nests, builds nests high in trees (as
high as 100 feet) of sticks, twigs, bark and feathers in cavities, or cliff
ledges which are normally abandoned after one brood season. Usually remains
within a few miles of its nest year around.
Lays two or three dull white eggs which hatch after about a month of
incubation and young remain in the nest for about another two months.
Its night vision, keen hearing, and swift
silent flight make dusk to dawn the ideal time to hunt totally unsuspecting
prey. Mostly rodents, small mammals, poultry, game birds and song birds, the
bones, fur and feathers of which adorn their nests and the ground below. Also
eats water foul, fish, even skunks, and sometimes makes the mistake of attacking
a porcupine. Great Horned Owls are so bold many are injured or killed attacking
You've may have seen flocks of crows, magpies, or noisy songbirds
chasing hawks or owls. Annoying mobs are the smaller species' only defense
against these predators. A hawk will usually fly while a Great Horned Owl will
often perch pretending to be indifferent until it finally has had enough.
Its observant appearance and success as a hunter give it a reputation of being
wise. Its deep eerie hoots give it a place in superstitious folklore, and its
blood curdling scream can only be fully appreciated when alone in a forest after
For the Great Horned Owl, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommends a square
platform 24 inches on each side (same as for the Red-tailed Hawk.) Mount
14' or higher on a sturdy post or structure on a forest edge or in a clearing
adjacent to the tree line.
The chances of attracting an owl to any
particular platform are probably slim. Maybe a properly positioned
platform in or next to an isolated grove, canyon, or desert somewhere might
attract a pair of young owls.
Considering how well the Great Horned Owl
has thrived, even in hard times when prey is scarce and other species are
struggling, it needs little assistance.
Still, you can fairly easily observe the
bird in its natural habitat, or from around a campfire, which they seem to be
attracted to, especially since they are almost everywhere.