The Great Horned Owl, Predator and Prey

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl Photo By Greg Hume

They have an amazingly keen hearing and can detect a mouse from as far as 23 meters away!

Identifying them:

The Great Horned Owl is one of the most common owls in North America. It lives all over the country year round. I used to go to a forest called Tryon Creek where I would watch for owls. I would hear many kinds of hoots during the night and morning. One sound I heard came from the Great Horned Owl. If you want to hear the Great Horned Owls’ call, click the following link to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which is by the way a great website to find facts about birds:

The Great Horned Owl is approximately 24 inches and their wingspan is 57 inches. They have a curved bill that helps them tear at his or hers prey.


They will hang out in a variety of open space and tree-filled forests.
They will perch upon trees in woodlands, swampy areas, agricultural fields, and of course forests. You may sometimes even find them in cities. Since it has a wide range of prey, it can adapt to any kind of habitat. It nests in forests but hunts out in open areas, (farm fields).

Nesting and Nestlings:

Great Horned Owls will nest upon trees in Juniper, Cottonwood, Pine, and more. They will also nest in cavities in live trees, but mainly nest in already-made nests from another species like the Spotted Owl does. They occasionally nest on the ground too. Females put feathers on their nests to keep them and future nestlings warm.

Breeding starts in January and ends in May. They breed for life. Broods incubate for around 30-37 days, while incubating, the mother stays with the nestlings while the male fetches the meals. The owlet moves around the tree and hops around from branch to branch at 6 weeks of age. A week later, they are able to fly! Though they are capable of flying, they perfect and become great flyers at 10-12 weeks of age.

Predator and Prey:

Great Horned Owls have a lot of prey but they almost have no predators. Though they may be killed in fights with other Great Horned Owls, Snowy Owls and Bald Eagles. Owlets are preyed on by foxes, coyotes and wild cats. They can last in the wild for about 13 years, but in captivity, they can live up to 35 years and older. Many humans hunt and kill them for feathers, in captivity, they are kept safe from them and other predators.

Barn Owls and other small owls are prey for Great Horned Owls, just as fifty other species are prey to them as well. Great Horned Owls will eat mostly small mammals like rodents or moles, this way they can swallow them whole. They have been known to eat few large birds such as ducks and Canada Geese too, and are one of the few animals that prefer skunk as a main diet. They have an amazingly keen hearing and caof smell that can detect a mouse from as far as 23 meters away!

Photographed by Faith Elise

Photographed by Deanna Piowaty

Random, Interesting Facts:

~The Great Horned Owl can turn their heads around 270 degrees.

~They range to South Mexico and Alaska.

~They have very smooth wings that allow them to fly silently.

~Though most Great Horned Owls live around 13 years in the wild, there has been a 28-year-old Great Horned Owl spotted in the wild.

~Males’ calls are lower pitched than females’.

Learn more about Great Horned Owls life style at


About faithelise

I love learning about species of birds and want to be an Ornathologist. Writing about birds is my passion and I love every part of it!
This entry was posted in Bird Watching, Hawk, nonfiction and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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