Description: The Great Horned Owl is a large, powerful, and mostly nocturnal owl. It is also the only large owl with ear tufts. The smaller, medium sized Long-Eared Owl is similar in appearance although can be distinguished by its smaller size, slimmer shape, longer ear tufts, cross barred under parts, and different call (the Great Horned has a distinctive advertising hoot that ‘might’ only be confused with a Great Gray Owl). The Great Horned Owl is very widespread and common but can vary in color dramatically between regions although its markings do remain reasonably constant and it always has prominent ear tufts. Its under parts have thin dark brown bars on a whitish base with the upper chest bars becoming somewhat blotchy. The throat has a bold white patch; white mustache and white to tan along the sides of the bill into the eyebrows. The prominent facial disk is bordered at the sides with black. The eyes are from lemon yellow to straw colored with a thin black border. The backside has fine dark mottling with dark bars on the primaries and tail. The races tend to get smaller in size from the northeast to the southwest. The races also tend to blend with their habitat in their coloration. The owl varies in overall and facial disk color from whitish to orange-buff to brownish-gray to dark brown. The northern members of the subarticus race being the lightest with a whitish facial disk and overall whitish-buff base color. The darkest race being the saturatus with a deep brown facial disk, chest, and base color to its backside.
Young: The young are similar in coloration with the adults although their barring and dark markings are not as crisp and defined, ear tufts smaller or not apparent. It also has a screech similar to a barn owl for a call.