Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Great Horned Owl

Bubo virginianus
The Great Horned Owl is a truly great bird-- they are the second largest Owls in the Americas! (Second to the Snowy Owl). These big birds of prey have a body length of over 2ft, and sport two long feather tufts that give them the "horned" name. Males are slightly smaller than females (common in birds of prey), though they do have louder, deeper voices.

Great Horned Owls live in both North and South America, and are found in a variety of different open habitats-- including deserts! Their diverse habitat preference also means that they have a very diverse diet. The Owls will eat rodents, rabbits, insects, reptiles, fish, and even other birds of prey like Peregrine Falcons!

Male and female Great Horned Owls form monogamous pair bonds, often for life. They occupy territories that they defend vigorously, and they will readily kill to protect their offspring-- even members of their own species.

The Owls produce a single brood of offspring each yeah, laying between 1 and 4 eggs. The eggs incubate for close to 40 days, and hatch in the early Spring. While incubating, the female Owl will rarely leave the nest-- her mate will protect the territory and bring her food. After the offspring hatch, he will feed them for a few weeks as well. Young Owls start to fly at about 7 weeks, and will leave their parents in the late Fall or early Winter, when it is time for a new breeding cycle to begin.

Because of their massive range and their relatively stable population, the Great Horned Owls are listed as being of Least Concern.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : North and South America
Size : Body length up to 2in (.6m), Wingspan up to 5ft (1.5m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Strigiformes
Family : Strigidae -- Genus : Bubo -- Species : B. virginianus
Image :  Shudrburg

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