Great Horned Owls (Bubo virginianus) are beautiful, nocturnal birds. They are common throughout north America, including the Basin and Range region and are actually one of the Basin and Ranges largest nocturnal birds of prey.
When outdoors at night, you can often hear their deep, hooting voices. Their calls tend to be the familiar and soft hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo. Great horned owls have large earlike tufts. Generally, they have brown body plumage with a white throat patch. Their undersides have dark horizontal bars. They have broad, rounded wings and their head is rounded with a short bill. Great horned owls tend to be 18 to 25 inches tall with a wingspan of 40 to 60 inches, weighing between 2 to 5 pounds.
These birds are strong, capable predators that can take down prey larger than themselves, but their typical prey tends to be small rodents. They find high perches to hunt from where they listen for sounds of prey. Once they locate their target, they swoop down silently onto their prey.
Fun fact from All About Birds: "Great Horned Owls have large eyes, pupils that open widely in the dark, and retinas containing many rod cells for excellent night vision. Their eyes don’t move in their sockets, but they can swivel their heads more than 180 degrees to look in any direction. They also have sensitive hearing, thanks in part to facial disc feathers that direct sound waves to their ears."
Sources and where you can learn more:
All About Birds; Great Horned Owl: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Horned_Owl/id
Nevada Department of Wildlife; Great Horned Owl: http://www.ndow.org/Species/Birds/Great_Horned_Owl/
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