Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl. Photo: Ryk Naves/Unsplash

Here are some interesting facts about the Great Horned Owl. The Great Horned Owl is the largest owl found in New Mexico, measuring up to more than 25 inches! They are usually about 3 pounds. Great Horned Owls have ear tufts and what looks like a speckled white bib. They nest in abandoned hawk, heron, or crow nests but also live in rock alcoves, hollowed out trees, abandoned buildings, and sometimes on the ground. They are found in woods, mountain forests, desert canyons, marshes, city parks, and urban forests. They prefer open spaces to dense woodlands or living close to a forest where they can hunt. Their nesting season is between January and April. They lay 2-6 eggs and live to more than 12 years. One Great Horned Owl in captivity lived for 29 years!

They eat a lot of things. Here are some of them: cottontail rabbits, squirrels, shrews, jackrabbits, muskrats, mice, weasels, skunks, pocket gophers, snakes, domestic cats, bats, beetles, scorpions, frogs, grasshoppers, and a wide variety of birds, from small passerines like juncos and sparrows to wild ducks, grouse, pheasants, and even other owls. (We think that an owl ate our four chickens.) They eat small rodents whole but bigger prey they tear into pieces. They hunt by sitting on a branch, and when they see or hear something, they pounce on it and eat it. They can pick up prey that weigh up to 60 pounds! Their territory is a little more than 5 miles! These are a few interesting things about Great Horned Owls, and there is probably a lot more to discover! Listen for their hoot – hoot – hoot in your neighborhood at night. by Sam Clouse