Great Horned Owls

Great Horned Owl

Photo Credit – Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History

I had the privilege of seeing not one, but two great horned owls near my home. Not only that, they stayed put so we could watch them. In general great horned owls are nocturnal and prefer forests, but these two were just hanging out mid-morning on a grey day. And while we have trees around, I certainly wouldn’t consider my area a forest. But we do have lots of little critters for owls to hunt.

Great horned owls are large, stocky birds. To me, those two sentries seemed huge. But they only weigh between 3 and 4 pounds…hollow bones, after all. Despite this slight weight, they are fierce predators able to take on prey much larger than themselves. Their talons grip so tightly they can sever the spine of their prey. Short, wide wings allow these owls to maneuver between the trees effortlessly and they fly almost silently, like a ninja. Unsuspecting prey never hear them coming.

Of course these birds have excellent eyesight and are well-adapted to night hunting. Interestingly though, their eyes don’t move in their sockets. Instead, great horned owl heads can swivel more than 180 degrees to see in every direction. These birds have excellent hearing, aided by their facial feathers which direct sound toward their ears.

Although I’ve been on the lookout for those owls, I haven’t seen them again. But they’re around. We hear them at night.