Critter Corner - Great
DID YOU KNOW:
Soft, velvety feathers allow owls to fly silently. Special
eyes allow them to see clearly, even on pitch black, moonless
nights. Large ear openings, hidden under the feathers give
owls the finest hearing of any animal on earth.
The great horned owl is a ferocious night-time
hunter that uses its large feet and sharp claws (talons) to
catch and kill its prey, which may be a small as a beetle to as
large as a skunk or even a wild turkey.
Great horned owls do not make their own nests, but
nests that were made by other animals such as squirrels, crows
and especially red-tailed hawks. The female owl lays two
to five eggs in February. She plucks the feathers off her
stomach so that her warm bare skin covers the eggs and keeps
them warm even when the temperature is below freezing. The
eggs hatch in four to five weeks.
The owls are covered with feathers of mixed brown, gray,
which and black. These colors make them difficult to see
in trees, Habitats vary from forests to cities to open
desert. They may nest in trees or caves, and sometimes
even on the ground.
Large, strong talons are the first line of
defense. Perhaps the several feathers that
stick up like a set of horns (these are NOT ears), and their
huge yellow eyes make them appear more threatening.
Crows and great horned owls are mortal enemies. The
owls raid the crow's nests, snatching baby crows for food.
The crows attack young owls when they find them n the
ground. When a crow sees an owl, it will fly close to
it and start to caw loudly. Other crows will fly in
and join the first crow. If you hear lots of crows
cawing together, see whether you can spot an owl nearby.
The great horned owls are often called hoot owls.
During winter nights the male and female owls hoot back and
forth to each other.
Check out Lakeside Nature Center's
Great Horned Owl.
To learn more about
Great Horned Owls
(Photo Credits: Chicks from US
Department of Fish & Wildlife; All others from Washington
Department of Fish & Wildlife)