Great Horned Owl Facts For Kids | Great Horned Owl Diet & Habitat

Let’s discover some of the rarely known great horned owl facts for kids including great horned owl diet, habitat, reproduction, and species. Although long considered a nocturnal predator, the great horned owl often hunts in the twilight hours of dusk and dawn, when light conditions are uncertain and the advantage often lies with the hunter.

The great horned owl is the most widespread owl across North America. They are known to reside extensively all throughout the tropical rainforest to Arctic tundra, from deserts to the suburban backyards. These types of owls are distinctively characterized by their feather tufts on their heads.

Great horned owls are highly adaptable to the rainforests, woods and farmlands. The species living in the Northern part more often migrates in winter but for the most part they live in the temperate climates. They tend to make their nests in tree cavities, abandoned holes, stumps, and caves that previously belonged to other birds of prey.

Owls have long been recognized as the viciously aggressive parents that react strongly against any potential predators. Great horned owls are often preyed upon by coyotes, foxes, and feral cats. The adults have almost no predators. These types of owls are often come into conflict with snowy owls, Northern Goshawk owls, peregrine falcons, and eagles.

Interesting Great Horned Owl Facts For Kids

  1. Great horned owls are by far the largest and the heaviest owl species that inhabits all throughout Central and South America.
  2. The length of the great horned owl measures around 43 – 64 cm (17 – 25 inches).
  3. These birds have a wingspan measuring at 91 – 153 cm (36 – 60 inches).
  4. As in other birds of prey, the females are 10 – 20% larger in comparison to the males.
  5. The average height of these owls measure around 55 cm (22 inches) together with a wingspan averaging 124 cm (49 inches), and the weight of 1.4 kg (3.1 lb).
  6. The weight of the great horned owl measures around 0.6 – 2.6 kg (1.3 – 5.7 lb).
  7. The great horned owl tail measures around 17.5 – 25 cm (6.9 – 9.8 inches), while the wing chord is 31.3 – 40 cm (12.3 – 16 inches) long; the tarsal length measures around 5.4 – 8 cm (2.1 – 3.1 inches), the bill measures around 3.3 – 5.2 cm (1.3 – 2.0 inches).
  8. Depending entirely on species, great horned owls are characterized by their unique coloration.
  9. The mature owls have rather wider wings and larger heads. The great horned owl’s facial disk is mostly reddish brown with greyish shade as well.
  10. The undersides of these raptors are mottled brown.
  11. The legs and feet of these owls are roofed in feather that goes down to the talons together with a slight black skin that becomes visible from its talons. They have powerful feet.
  12. The great horned owls call is more likely to be ho-ho-hoo-hoo and is rather low-pitched.
  13. The young birds are often seen to produce hissing or screeching sounds that resembles with the barn owls call.
  14. Like other owl species, great horned owls also awfully employ secrecy and stealth. Thanks to the natural coloration of these owls, they are naturally camouflaged both at night when they’re active and in daytime while roosting.
  15. The great horned owls have exceptional binocular vision that pinpoints their prey even in extreme lowlight conditions.
  16. They have stationary eyes and their eyes are as large as that of humans.
  17. The owls should turn their heads entirely and their heads can unsurprisingly rotate a full 270 degrees.
  18. They have a keen sense of hearing.
  19. The crushing power of great horned owls is around 300 psi.
  20. Owls are regarded as sit-and-wait predators in that they watch their prey from a high perch or pole and then take a silent flight towards it.
  21. The owls are also rarely observed to walk on land when it needs to chase its prey.
  22. They do not produce any sound while hunting.
  23. The great horned owl’s pellets measure around 7.6 – 10.2 cm (1.2 inches), with the thickness
  24. measuring at 3.8 cm (1.5 inches). The skull measures around 3 cm (1.2 inches).
  25. In the wild, great horned owls can survive up to 13 years; while in captivity the lifespan
  26. These birds are not globally threatened.

Read More: Ultimate Guide to the Owl’s Diet

Distribution and Habitat

  • The great horned owls are the inhabitants of the subarctic North America and for the most part dwelling in the Central and North America.
  • These birds of prey are also found in Tierra del Fuego but as we travel towards the southern part including E; Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Guatemala, and Amazonia, the great horned owls do not exist.
  • They have the most widespread distribution all throughout the America. So far as great horned owl habitat is concerned, they are highly adaptable.
  • These raptors build their habitats in trees including mixed deciduous forests, tropical rainforests, pampas, coniferous forests, mountainous regions, rocky coasts, mangrove swamps, subarctic tundra, and prairie.
  • They are not apt to survive under extreme climes and are therefore not present in the wetland habitats, thick rainforests, and the deserts.
  • Great horned owls are more likely to survive in open areas perhaps due to the vast opportunities of catching prey. They are rarely seen in urban or suburban areas.

Read More: Detailed Analysis on Great Horned Owl Habitat

Feeding Ecology and Diet

  • The great horned owls are opportunistic feeders and are known to take on almost any creature that flies, crawls, swims or even walks.
  • These birds do not prey on large-sized mammals. They prey on medium-sized mammals such as rabbits, rodent, flying squirrels, rats, voles, mice, lemmings, and hares.
  • Great horned owls also consume bats, muskrats, martens, shrews, armadillos, and weasels.
  • According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, these owls are the only species that often preys on skunks.
  • They are also known to prey on several birds including turkey, herons, grouse, coots, ducks, crows, woodpeckers, passerines, quail, pigeons, and gulls. Of all these birds, great horned owls regularly feed on coots and ducks.
  • They often come into conflict with snowy owls. These raptors are also known to consume young alligators, crustaceans, earthworms, amphibians, fish, scorpions, different insects, and centipedes. They prey on domesticated cats, carrion, and young dogs.

Read more: What do Baby Owls Eat

Reproductive Biology

  • Great horned owls are for the most part earliest-breeding birds across North America since there is a lengthy nightfall in this part of the world. These types of owls breed in late January and early February.
  • They used to produce different sounds quite often before the breeding season begins. The males are normally responsible for picking out the nesting site and then bringing on the female’s attention by flying to them.
  • The clutch size comprises 2 eggs, with averaging 1 – 6 eggs (rarely over 4). The clutch size largely relies on the environmental conditions.
  • The average size of great horned owl’s eggs measures 1.8 inches (46.5 mm) in width; the length measuring at 2.2 inches (55.2 mm); the average weight of 1.8 oz (51 grams).
  • The incubation period lasts for 28 – 37 days, averaging 33 days. During the incubation period, the female guards over the eggs while males capture food to bring to her.
  • The brooding almost continuous until the young is about 2 weeks old. The juveniles will begin their first flight after 10 – 12 weeks.
  • Great horned owls have got very few natural predators in the wild.


  1. Common Great Horned Owl
  2. South American Great Horned Owl
  3. Northern/Subarctic Great Horned Owl
  4. Californian Great Horned Owl
  5. Coastal Great Horned Owl
  6. North Andean Great Horned Owl
  7. Desert Great Horned Owl
  8. Yucatan Great Horned Owl
  9. Baja California Great Horned Owl
  10. Northeastern Great Horned Owl
  11. Northwestern Great Horned Owl
  12. Central American Great Horned Owl
  13. Rocky Mountains Great Horned Owl

1 Comment

  1. The owl pictured right above the “Species” list is actually a Eurasian Eagle Owl. They look similar, but you can tell by the pattern on the feathers, shape of the ear tufts, and eye colour. c:

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