Northern Great Horned Owl

The Northern Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus subarcticus) is a nocturnal bird of prey and a raptor. It is also known as the Tiger Owl, the Hoot Owl, or the Subarctic Great Horned Owl. It is closely related to the Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo). It is not horned – the ‘horns’ are really tufts of feathers, called plumicorns. 

The Northern Great Horned Owl is well camouflaged at night with mottled brown-grey and white feathers. Some have more white feathers than grey feathers. It does not have the reddish colour of other sub-species of Great Horned Owls. It is heavily built with a large head, a grey facial disc, and tufted ears. It has large yellow eyes. It has feathered feet with sharp talons (claws). Its beak is dark-coloured. 

It can rotate its head, which gives it an arc of vision of 270 degrees. A human has an arc of vision of 120 degrees. 

It measures about 65 centimetres (26 inches) tall, with a wingspan of 150 centimetres (59 inches). Females are larger than males. 

Northern Great Horned Owl

The Northern Great Horned Owl is native to the Americas, from British Columbia to North Dakota. It prefers regions with trees, but it can live in a wide range of habitats, except deserts.

It eats rabbits, hares, rats, mice, voles, birds, reptiles, frogs, toads, insects, and small mammals. It is nocturnal, hunting at night. It swoops on its prey, while its prey is on the ground. It usually eats its prey whole. 

The Northern Great Horned Owl does not make its own nest. It lays eggs in the nests of other birds. The female lays 2-4 eggs, which hatch after 26-35 days. Only the female sits on the eggs, while the male brings her food. The chicks fly after about 49 days.

Northern Great Horned Owl
Northern Great Horned Owl
Northern Great Horned Owl
Northern Great Horned Owl
Northern Great Horned Owl

Photographer: Martina Nicolls

Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

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