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Bubo virginianus

Common Name: Great Horned Owl
Bubo virginianus
Bubo virginianus

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Strigiformes
Family: Strigidae
Genus: Bubo
Species: Bubo virginianus

Conservation Status

Identifying Features

Great horned owls are a larger sized bird of prey, often patterns of mottled browns, orange-browns, gray, white, and black. They have a white patch of feathers on their throat, tall ear tufts, and yellow eyes.

Habitat & Range

Great horned owls live throughout North America and much of South America. One of North America’s most common owls, they are found in a wide variety of habitats, including a variety of forests, meadow edges, swamps, deserts, and even the sub-arctic.


The great horned owl is an excellent predator, and can be observed hunting a wide variety of prey including small and medium sized mammals, small to large birds, and invertebrates!

Life Cycle

Great horned owls will use another bird’s nest as their own, often adding additional lining and their own down feathers. They begin nesting in January and February, with eggs hatching in about a month. It’s believed that the early nesting and hatching is advantageous to great horns as it gives the young owls a longer season of abundance in their first year for them to practice their hunting skills before the harshness of winter.

Featured image by Brendan Lally.

See Me At Cayuga Nature Center


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