November 23, 2017

Owl

Great Horned Owl
(Bubo virginianus) is one of North America’s largest birds of prey. Their distinctive whoo-hoo-ho-o-o call can be heard on still evenings in almost any forested area of Maine. Unlike most other birds, the Great Horned owls stay in one place throughout the year.

These birds are nocturnal hunters, aided by enormous yellow eyes and the large tufty ears which give it its name. Both vision and hearing are extremely sharp, allowing the predators to locate and catch mice, birds, rabbits, and other prey. Flight is swift and virtually silent, allowing the birds to swoop down on unsuspecting critters, and their sharp, powerful talons can snatch and hold surprisingly large animals.

Smaller prey are swallowed whole, while larger prey must be dismembered first. Bones, fur, feathers, and other indigestible elements are later regurgitated in the familiar “pellets” which can be found frequently in the woods.

Rather than building their own nests, Great Horned Owls often steal the previous year’s nest of another bird. The same nest is rarely used more than one season, since the young owls trample the nest. Nesting tends to happen quite early, well before the snow is gone. Pairs are believed to mate for life, and the female generally lays 1-5 eggs every spring.