Friday, 25 November 2011

The Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl

Flaying Animal | The Great Horned Owl | Great Horned Owls can vary in colour from a reddish brown to a grey or black and white. The underside is a light grey with dark bars and a white band of feathers on the upper breast. They have large, staring yellow-orange eyes, bordered in most races by an orange-buff facial disc. The name is derived from tufts of feathers that appear to be "horns" which are sometimes referred to as "ear tufts" but have nothing to do with hearing at all. The large feet are feathered to the ends of the toes, and the immature birds resemble the adults. Females are 10 to 20% larger than males.
Great Horned Owls range in length from 18–27 in (46–69 cm) and have a wingspan of 40-60.5 in (101–153 cm); Females are larger than males, an average adult being 22 in (55 cm) long with a 49 in (124 cm) wingspan and weighing about 3.1 lbs (1400 g). Depending on subspecies, Great Horned Owls can weigh from 0.72 to 2.55 kg (1.6 to 5.6 lb).

Their call is a low-pitched but loud ho-ho-hoo hoo hoo; sometimes it is only four syllables instead of five. The female's call is higher and rises in pitch at the end of the call. Young owls make hissing or screeching sounds that are often confused with the calls of Barn Owls. Great Horned Owls can be easily confused with the Magellanic Horned Owl (B. magellanicus) and other eagle-owls. They are all generally allopatric though.

The Great Horned Owl

Habits
Activity generally begins at dusk, but in some regions, may be seen in late afternoon or early morning. Both sexes may be very aggressive towards intruders when nesting.

The Great Horned Owl

Hunting & Food
Great Horned Owls hunt by perching on snags and poles and watching for prey, or by gliding slowly above the ground. From high perches they dive down to the ground with wings folded, before snatching prey. Prey are usually killed instantly when grasped by its large talons. They also hunt by walking on the ground to capture small prey or wading into water to snatch frogs and fish. They have been known to walk into chicken coops to take domestic fowl. Rodents and small rabbits can be swallowed whole while larger prey are carried off and ripped apart at feeding perches or at the nest. Birds are often plucked first, and legs and wing tips discarded. 

The Great Horned Owl

Distribution and ecology
The breeding habitat of the Great Horned Owl extends from subarctic North America through much of Central America and South America south to Tierra del Fuego. They are absent from southern Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua to Panama in Central, and Amazonia and the southwest in South America, as well as from the West Indies and indeed most off-shore islands.

Great Horned Owl eggs, nestlings and fledgings may be preyed on by foxes, coyotes, or wild or feral cats. There are almost no predators of adults, but they may be killed in confrontations with eagles, Snowy Owls and, mostly, other Great Horned Owls. Far-ranging as it is, it is not considered a globally threatened species by the IUCN.

The Great Horned Owl

Mortality
A long-lived Owl, captive birds have been known to live 29 to 38 years, and wild Owls up to 13 years. Most mortality is related to man - shootings, traps, road kills and electrocutions. The only natural enemies are other Great Horned Owls and, occasionally, Northern Goshawks during disputes over nest sites. Peregrine Falcons have also been observed attacking Great Horned Owls.

The Great Horned Owl

Habitat
Great Horned Owls have adapted to many different places and climates. They occur in habitats from dense forests, deserts and plains to city parks. They have been known to inhabit the same area as the diurnal red-tailed hawk.

The Great Horned Owl

Distribution
Great Horned Owls are found throughout North America from the northern treeline and then in Central and South America. They are resident year-round, however, birds living in the northern part of the species' range may migrate south.

The Great Horned Owl

Perhaps what this bird is an owl of the most aggressive and powerful than other owls, these birds have been recorded to kill red-tailed hawks and owls gray even great, and no doubt doubt have killed a large eagle.

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