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Nature Journal - Great Horned Owl Calling at night

Updated: Jun 9, 2021

We always love owls. They seem like mysterious and wise creatures that know so much more about another hidden world that humans don't usually recognize. The dark woods, the bright moon, and the whispers of nature...We thought about putting up an owl house in our garden but passed this idea because we have put up a bat house already (owls eat bats too!). Also, we have some native brown snakes around and that should be enough to keep the population of rodents in control. The other night, while we were having a late dinner, we heard this echoing hoo~hooo~hoo call from outside of the window. We were so excited and ran with bare feet into the dark backyard, trying to locate where this mysterious guest is at. It was quite dark, and this owl continued calling from higher up of the treetops. We could not see it, but its call was so close and so clear. That simply made our day.

Great Horned Owl- Watercolor painting by Gloria M.
Great Horned Owl- Watercolor by Gloria M. 5-18-21

Did you know:

  • The wild Great Horned Owl was found to have lived at least 28 years. They have been known to live to 50 years old in captivity.

  • In cold winters, Great Horned Owls may store uneaten food in cavities to let it freeze and defrost the cached prey with their bodies sitting on it!

  • Like the other owls, Great Horned Owls usually swallow the prey whole then regurgitate the indigestible parts such as fur, bones, teeth, and feathers as compressed pellets.

  • Great Horned Owls are built to be nighttime hunters. They have good vision and their eyes are 35 times more sensitive than human eyes. They can only see black and white, as color vision is not useful to these night hunters. They also rely on their tremendous hearing to hunt in the dark. Their flight feathers have soft edges that allow them to fly stealthily to ambush prey.

  • Great Horned Owls can not move their eyes around, so they have evolved the ability to rotate their heads about 270 degrees.

  • The Great Horned Owls’ call can be heard miles away in a still night.

Wildlife garden tips:

1. Include trees in your garden. Dead trees provide essential nesting sites and calling perches. Live trees provide good habitat for all kinds of wildlife to thrive.

2. Don't pick fledging owls off the ground. The fledglings normally spend a week or more on the ground before they learn to fly well. Their parents are likely to be somewhere nearby and keeping a close watch. If you think the owl might need help, contact a local wildlife rehabilitator instead.

3. Do not use poison. The poison used in the environment will likely end up in the stomach of an animal. Many birds including owls that eat the poisoned rodents also suffer and die.

4. Consider putting up an Owl box to attract resident owls and they can help you to keep the rodents in control.

5. Provide birdbaths. Like other birds, owls are attracted to large bird baths that they can drink in and wash from.

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