Great Horned Owl

Photo by Bob Gress


Great Horned Owl
Bubo virginianus

Length: 20 - 24 inches
Wingspread: 53 - 56 inches
Weight: 3.1 - 3.6 pounds


Comments: 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.

Distribution: 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.

Food: 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, visit the Great Horned Owl Portrait.