GREAT HORNED OWL
Photo by Bob Gress
Length: 20 - 24 inches
Wingspread: 53 - 56 inches
Weight: 3.1 - 3.6 pounds
The great horned owl, commonly called the hoot owl, is the most
aggressive and powerful owl in North America. It is named for the obvious feather tufts on
top of its head. These feather horns are not ears. The ears are hidden below,
and slightly behind the eyes. Vision is superb both day and night. Excellent vision, along
with an acute auditory sense, makes locating prey a simple process. Like other owls, the
eyes cannot move; they are fixed in the sockets. Fourteen neck bones allow the head to
pivot 270 degrees or ¾ of a circle. It is the first of all birds to nest and lay eggs in
Kansas. They are commonly sitting on eggs in February, occasionally in January.
This is the most widespread owl in North America. It is found in nearly all
habitats except the arctic tundra. In Kansas, it nests statewide.
Probably no other raptor in North America has a diet as varied as the great horned
owl. It will kill whatever is available, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians,
fish and insects. With its poor sense of smell it is also willing to catch skunks.
- For more info:
see the GPNC species portrait for the Great Horned Owl.
Other Kansas Owls
Text: Bob Gress and Vanessa Avara
Web Design: Jim Mason