Being one of the most common owls in the entire of North America, it is quite possible that when someone says ‘owl’ you think of this particular owl.
With long earlike tuffs, deep hooting calls and a very stern stare, the great horned owls are something we often see in stories and cartoons.
Does your little one want to know more about these birds of prey? Then waste no time and read our article on 11 amazing great horned owls facts for kids and surprise your little one!
11 Most Interesting & Fun Facts about Great Horned Owls for Kids
One look at the yellow colored, barred chest of the great horned owls, and you can understand why they are also called the ‘tiger owls’.
However, even though they are called ‘great horned owls’ these owls do not have real horns. The long earlike tuffs on their head give a horn-like appearance.
An interesting fact about the great horned owls is that scientists have no definite reason as to why they evolved with the horn-like tuffs.
They have speculated that these tuffs help them identify their own species and also help in camouflaging them as the yellowish-brown color of the tuffs may look like a pair of twigs.
1. Great horned owls are highly adaptable
Great horned owls are highly adaptable creatures. They are found throughout the United States of America, Mexico, and South America. They are one of the most common species of owls found in both North and South America.
These birds of prey are found everywhere from forests and canyons to grasslands.
2. They use the abandoned nests of other animals or birds
Great horned owls do not build their own nests. Instead, they use the nests abandoned by other animals or birds. Or they use hallows of tree barks.
Looks like these massive birds are ready to steal the house of other creatures in case they are abandoned for a long time!
3. The males incubate during breeding
One of the most interesting facts of the great horned owls is that during the breeding season, not only just the female, but the male also incubates and keeps the eggs warm. They do this in addition to bringing food for the mother and later the hatched chicks.
The eggs usually hatch after 4 weeks and there are generally 3 to 4 eggs per couple.
4. They have a great digestive system
Like most birds, great horned owls too, do not have ant teeth. They swallow their prey whole and they have great digestive systems which allow them to digest their food.
The system later brings up bones, fur, and other unwanted and indigested bits of the prey which the owl can throw out.
5. They are hardly spotted
Like most owls, the great horned owls are nocturnal birds. Hence, it is really difficult to spot them during the day.
They are active during the night and that is when they hunt and you stand a chance of hearing them hooting.
To learn about some other species of owls, check out our articles:
6. They are violent hunters
The great horned owls are extremely violent hunters. They hunt during the night. They strike from above and use their powerful talons to kill and then carry their prey.
These birds of prey are so strong that they do not even leave cats and dogs. Unlucky cats and dogs have been known to fall prey to these vicious birds.
7. Great horned owls are great parents and fiercely protective of their young ones
It has already been established that the great horned owls are violent hunters. This similar characteristic of the bird is displayed when it comes to protecting their babies.
While it is true that any animal or bird would want to make sure that their babies are safe, the great horned owls are particularly vicious.
They are known to even attack humans in case they were unlucky enough to wander close to their babies.
8. The females are larger in size than the males
Usually, throughout the animal and bird kingdom, the males always tend to be larger or bigger in size. That is true for human beings too.
The average male is always built bigger than the average female. It is very rare to find animals or birds where the female is larger than the male.
However, when it comes to the great horned owl, the females are always larger in size than the males.
But the males tend to have a deeper voice box and one can easily determine which one is a male and which one is female from a duet of great horned owls’ hoots.
9. They have a very versatile diet
The diet of the great horned owls is extremely versatile. They usually feed on smaller mammals like rabbits or other birds. They include a lot of skunks in their diet and they usually eat animals that have skunks in their diets.
Not only this, but the great horned owls also attack other species of owls or birds which are bigger than them.
10. Great horned owls have an excellent sense of hearing
Great horned owls are nocturnal birds and have excellent eyesight. But, that is not the only weapon that they have. These owls are also known for their acute sense of hearing.
It is said that their sense of hearing is so good that they can detect a mouse stepping on a twig from a distance of 75 feet!
11. Great horned owls play an important role in the ecosystem
The great horned owls play a very important role in the ecosystem. They hunt down rodents and this makes them important in agricultural lands. However, they are also known to hunt down poultry. Hence, there is some animosity towards them.
But with their rodent hunting skills, the great horned owls have managed to help human beings more than the harm they induce.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Great horned owls all sorts of smaller mammals, rodents, and birds as well. They are also known to eat smaller owls or birds that are bigger than them. Additionally, they have occasionally eaten cats and dogs.
Great horned owls do not build their own nests and always choose to live in the abandoned nests of other birds or animals.
Great horned owls can be as big as 24 inches tall and can weigh around 1.4 kgs.
Great horned owls have an average wingspan of 55 cm.
Usually, great horned owls live for about 28 years. However, there are certain exceptions. For example, a female great horned owl in a San Francisco Zoo turned 50 in 2012.
Great horned owls are nocturnal birds and usually hunt at night.
The babies of great horned owls leave the nest temporarily after 5 weeks to climb nearby branches but leave permanently after 9-10 weeks.
An adult great horned owl does not have any natural predators. However, the unlucky ones may be hunted down by golden eagles or goshawks. Additionally, if a great horned owl is walking around on the ground, bobcats or coyotes may hunt them.
The great horned owls usually hoot to claim their territory and to fend off intruders.
Although great horned owls do not attack humans generally, they can become very violent towards anything, animal or human; if they sense that someone is getting too close to their babies.
Yes, the great horned owl is the largest owl in North America but it is not the biggest owl in the world.
Native Americans have certain beliefs about great horned owls. They believe that if you find a feather of a great horned owl, you should look deeply into someone who is telling you something as there is a possibility that they are lying. They believe that owls can see things that humans cannot.
No, great horned owls are not at all endangered.
Well, that was it, folks! You have managed to read the end of the article ‘11 Amazing Great Horned Owl Facts for Kids.’
We hope you enjoyed reading this article and that your little one too, enjoyed learning about the great horned owl. Keep in mind; do not approach these birds of prey, especially if they are with their babies.