first encounter with a Great Horned Owl was something
magical. As I walked through the deciduous forest
of Latodami Nature Preserve in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
I noticed a great shadow pass over the concrete
path below me. My first thought was that of an airplane
or maybe a large Turkey Vulture. When I looked up
into the tree, I was floored by the great owl, and
its large yellow eyes that were clealry visible
from 50 feet below.
Description/Habitat/Range: The Great Horned Owl is the largest owl normally
seen in the eastern United States. Variable in size
and color, some Great Horned Owls can measure 27
inches in length, far larger than the crows that
regularly mob it. The Great Horned Owl is mostly
brown, with black streaks and bars throughout its
body. It has large yellow eyes, and prominent ear
tufts, that in actuality are not used for hearing.
Its talons are covered with feathers and are among
the largest of all North American birds of prey.
The Great Horned Owl is found throughout North America
in all habitats. Northern individuals are lighter
Diet/Behavior: The Great Horned Owl is one of America's most formidable
predators, devouring everything from small mammals
to skunks, rabbits, other hawks and owls, and even,
on occasion, house cats. The Great Horned Owl normally
takes over an old hawk, eagle, or heron nest, and
may breed in winter's coldest months. Like all owls,
the presence of the Great Horned Owl may be revealed
by collections of pellets(indigestable packages
of bones, hair, and fur) underneath their roosts.