Great Horned Owl | WWF

Great Horned Owl

Great horned Owl (Bubo virginianuson a diurnal perch. Santa Cruz Province, Patagonia, Argentina.
© WWF / Michel GUNTHER
Owl mail, anyone? Since the very first Harry Potter novel, The Philosopher’s stone, this peculiar postal system of using owls in place of the postmen has had young readers enthralled. Who wouldn’t entrust their most important messages to the magical snowy owl Hedwig?
An owl of many names
The great horned owl, Bubo virginianus, is a very large owl native to North and South America. It is sometimes known as hoot owl, cat owl or winged tiger. It is named after its distinctive horn-like tufts of feathers. An average great horned owl is 56cm long, has a wingspan of 125cm and weighs about 1.4kg.

They have a large repertoire of sounds, ranging from deep booming hoots to shrill shrieks. They hunt between dusk and dawn perching on snags and poles and watching for prey, or by gliding slowly above the ground. Prey is usually killed instantly when grasped by its large talons.

A naturally resourceful, skilled hunter
A Great Horned Owl may take prey 2 to 3 times heavier than itself. They also hunt by walking on the ground to capture small prey or wading into water to snatch frogs and fish. They have excellent hearing and exceptional vision in low light.

The great horned owl is the only bird of prey known to ever fatally attack a human – an attack triggered by an attempt to remove eggs from the owl’s nest.

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