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Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl
Scientific Classification
Order: Strigiformes
Binomial name
Bubo virginianus

The Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus, is a very large owl.

Adults have large ear tufts, a reddish face, a white patch on the throat and yellow eyes. The underparts are light with brown barring; the upper parts are mottled brown. The legs and feet are covered in feathers up to the talons. There are regional variations in colour; birds farther north are paler.

Their breeding habitat is wooded or heavily shrubbed areas across North America. They often take over a nest used by some other large bird, sometimes adding feathers to line the nest but usually not much more.

They are permanent residents, but may wander after the nesting season.

These birds wait on a high perch at night and swoop down on prey. They mainly eat mammals, such as rats, mice, rabbits and skunks, and birds. In northern regions, they may let uneaten food freeze and then thaw it out later using their own body heat. They have excellent hearing and exceptional vision in low light conditions.

The call is a low-pitched hoo hoo hoo hoo.

The Great Horned Owl is the provincial bird for Alberta.