Do not let the name of this bird fool you into assuming that it will have great horns. No, the Great Horned Owl does not have horns. Instead, it has tufts of feathers sitting right there on its head. These are called plumicorns. This carnivorous bird has an average life span between five and fifteen years. The size range of this bird is between 18 and 25 inches, while its wings can measure between 3.3 and 4.8 feet. Its weight varies between 2 pounds and 5.5 pounds.
Theories Behind The Feathers On The Heads Of A Great Horned Owl
To date, scientists have not been able to come up with any conclusion regarding the purpose of feathers on the heads of these birds. However, they do have some specific suppositions. Experts believe that the feathers are useful for the members of the species in recognizing each other in the woods. Others are of the view that the feathers are there to help them avoid being the victims of other animals. The feathers on their heads make them look like broken branches of trees instead of a delicious meal.
Great Horned Owl: Important Details
This bird comes from North America and is known to live in different habitats like swamps, forests, tundra edges, deserts, cities, rain forests, parks, and suburbs. For the ones who come from North America, it is quite common to hear the soft and deep stuttering hoots of the Great Horned Owl. These birds use their hoots for advertising their territories. They even can make various other sounds like barks, whistles, hisses, shrieks, wavering cries, and coos.
Just like the other owl species, the Great Horned Owl hoots only at night. This nocturnal bird has wide pupils and big eyes, allowing them to catch sight of their prey very quickly. Dissimilar to the eyes of human beings, the eyes of these birds do not show any movement in the socket. They swivel their heads to look in different directions. These birds have broad and short wings giving them the flexibility of flying around forests. Their wings have soft feathers that help them in approaching prey quietly.
What Do Great Horned Owls Feed On?
They generally eat different types of things, starting from geese and skunks to small rodents. Just like all the other owl species, the Great Horned swallows its prey entirely and regurgitates pellets later. These pellets are made of fur, bone, and other unnecessary parts of the animals they have eaten as meals. This bird can take down larger mammals and birds, as well. It even feeds on frogs and tiny scorpions.
Great Horned Owls are fierce predators, but they are great as parents. The mated pairs live in disused nests of other larger bird species. They defend their nests from intruders in the most productive manner. Their babies are fully prepared to fly when they are 10 to 12 weeks old. Though it would not be safe to get them in your backyard, following some backyard tips for these birds can help you.