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GREAT HORNED OWL

Scientific Name: Bubo virginianus
Order
Strigiformes (owls)

Family
Strigidae

Habitat & Range
Great horned owls are native to the Americas. They inhabit a wide variety of environments, including mixed forests, tropical rainforests, prairies, deserts, subarctic tundra and mountainous regions. They can occasionally be found in urban and suburban areas, but prefer areas with less human activity.

Identification
The great horned owl is a heavy, barrel-shaped species that varies in plumage coloration. In general, they are brown, gray or reddish in color with white interspersed on their chest. They have bright yellow eyes and despite their name, their “horns” are simply tufts of feathers atop their head. An average adult measures 22 inches long with a 49-inch wingspan and weighs approximately 3 pounds.

Diet
Great horned owls hunt by watching from a high perch, typically blending in with their surroundings due to their natural-colored plumage. Almost all prey is killed with their talons, which have 300 pounds per square inch of crushing power. Prey includes small to medium-sized mammals and rodents such as rabbits, squirrels and mice.

Reproduction & Lifespan
Great horned owls breed in late January or February, but can be heard calling to each other as early as October. Males select their mate in December by hooting and puffing up their white chest feathers. Pairs typically breed together year after year and may mate for life. Females lay an average of 2 eggs per clutch that require 28 to 37 days of incubation.

Great horned owls in the wild live an average of 13 years, while the longest recorded lifespan in captivity is 38 years.

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