Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) - Larry Hitchens
While I may have the Barred Owl photography covered in this article, Larry Hitchens and Eric Gerber certainly have me out-gunned with the Great Horned Owl. Along with the Eastern Screech Owl and of course my greatest challenge, the Belted Kingfisher, the Great Horned Owl has become somewhat of a photographic nemesis with yours truly. However, I do have a few images to share for this species. I have three pairs located, but getting them out in the open has been a true challenge with only a spattering of acceptable results.
Great Horned Owl - Eric Gerber
I have one bird I've only been able to get a few shots of before the crows launch their attack. (See the biology inset image) Again, the Bombay Hook refuge in Delaware has been "pay-dirt" for the best of my Great Horned Owl images.
Now semi-retired, Larry spends on the average, three days a week prowling the eastern shore of Maryland, Delaware and Virginia in search of photographic opportunities. The Loblolly Pine shelter belts near the marshes of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge have been kind to him in his search for the Great Horned Owl. Larry had also located a nesting owl family on an Osprey platform near the Indian River Inlet in Delaware. The Great Horned Owl has been known to prey on the adult Osprey and their nestlings.
Eric, on the other hand, has his own little secret owling locations at a few of the local parks near his residence in Middle River, a Baltimore Maryland suburb. Then of course Saturdays are normally a day of camaraderie for the three of us to explore different areas together.
This year I have plans to seriously concentrate on the Great Horned Owl as well as other owl species I need to add to my photographic collection and study.
Great Horned Owl - Larry Hitchens
Great Horned Owl - Larry Hitchens
Great Horned Owl - Jim Flowers
Great Horned Owl Biology
The Great horned Owl is a large powerful and primarily nocturnal owl and feared hunter with an average length of 18 to 25 inches and wingspan of 50 to 60 inches. The average weight of the male is 47 ounces with the female heavier at near 60 ounces.
Great Horned Owl Crow Attack - Jim Flowers
Great Horned Owls are highly opportunistic hunters and will prey on such diversity it's almost impossible to list their diet. It will prey on smaller owls and has been know to attack larger raptorial birds such as the Red-tailed Hawk. It has no predators and will eat anything from crustaceans to small mammals. The Great Horned Owl is the only predator to eat Skunks with regularity.
Great Horned Owls are often the victim of harassment from flocks of American Crows. Once the owl is located, crows will come from all of the nearby areas to gang up on the owl and yell at him for hours. However the anger of the crow is well deserved as the Great Horned Owl is a leading predator of crows and their nestlings.
The Great horned Owl has the earliest breeding and nesting season of all North American Owls. The activity normally begins in early December and continues through July. The clutch is normally small with only 2 eggs but may have up to 6 eggs in seasons of abundant food. The incubation period is 28 to 35 days and the young will fledge after 10 weeks. The parents may care for the young for up to 5 months.
The Great Horned Owl is the widest spread and has the most diverse of habitats in North America. Nesting sites can range from the abandoned nest of raptors to caves, cliffs and man-made structures. It is highly adaptable to all climates and locations as long as it can find suitable nesting and roosting sites with an abundance of prey.