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Great Horned Owl
A Reference for North and Central American Owls

 The Great Horned Owl can be found over most of North and Central America and some of South America. It is a very large and powerful owl. Here you will find photos, recordings and a brief field notes section to help identify and enjoy this beautiful owl. A more in depth write up and range map can be found in its natural history page (the Biology link). To jump immediately to any of these sections use the Page Jump Links below.

Page Jump Links:
Photo Gallery
Additional photos
Audio Recordings
Field Notes
Biology

 

PHOTO GALLERY
Click on the thumbnail to bring up each of the Owl photos.

Great Horned Owl Photo

74K

Great Horned Owl Photo

84K

Great Horned Owl Photo

129K

Mt. Pinos,
California
February 2002 

Silverado Canyon,
California
October 2000
California Valley, 
California
June 2005 

Great Horned Owl Photo

118K

Great Horned Owl Photo

38K

Great Horned Owl Photo

54K
Black Mesa SP,
Oklahoma
November 2004
Paso Robles,
California
November 2000
Irvine Regional Park,
California
October 2000

Additional Photos

Photo 4
36K

RECORDINGS
Click on the sonograms to bring up each of the recordings.

Sound File
42K
Paso Robles,
California
August 1999

Sound File
107K
Trabuco Canyon,
California
May 1999

Sound File
82K
Silverado Canyon,
California
October 2000

This is the classic three to five note adult Great Horned Owl's vocalization.  A Great Horned Owl's juvenal screech. A second juvenal is heard in the background also. This is a female and male calling back and forth. The sequence
starts with the female, then the male and ends with the female.

FIELD NOTES
Great Horned Owl - Bubo virginianus

  The Great Horned Owl is one of the most powerful of North American Owls (Denver Holt, founder of The Ninepipes Center for Wildlife Research and Education, assures me that the Snowy Owl is the most powerful... he has been attacked by both!). Both Snowy and Great Gray Owls are larger in size but only the Snowy is more massive (greater average weight). The adult Great Horned is also the only large owl with prominent ear tufts. The larger size, bulky shape and white chest help to differentiate it from the similarly colored Long-eared Owl. The sexes are alike although the females may have a slightly higher, shorter sequence of notes in their call. In contrast with the adults, the juvenile Great Horned may not show ear tufts and call with a "screech" reminiscent of a Barn Owl. Length is 22" (same size as a Red-tailed Hawk), the iris of the eyes is yellow and the bill is slate-black.

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