|Bird Bio: Great Horned Owl|
|Written by Jackie Wolfinger|
|Monday, 04 March 2013 18:44|
These are our resident Great Horned Owls. Both birds came to the Sanctuary in 2008 from the Michigan State Veterinary Clinic. They both have permanent wing injuries that prevent them from flying, so they will remain at the Sanctuary for the rest of their lives. One of the owls, nicknamed Virginia, has been trained to stand calmly on the glove for education programs.
Virginia the Great Horned Owl standing on the glove
Great Horned Owls are one of the most commonly found owls in the U.S. This is because they are well-adapted to a variety of conditions. For example, Great Horned Owls can survive in any climate except for the very cold arctic! These owls will also eat almost anything they can find including mice, rabbits, birds as large as herons, insects, and crayfish. They are also the only animal that regularly eats skunks!
Great Horned Owls live in a wide variety of habitats, but they seem to like living near open areas the most. They typically hunt by sitting on a pole or tree near an open field or wetland and watch for prey up to 100ft away! A Great Horned Owl can see this far, because their eyes are very large in relation to the size of their head. If your eyes were as large as a Great Horned Owl’s in relation to the size of your head, they would be the size of tennis balls! Great Horned Owls also have more rods in their eyes than we do, so they can see better than we can in low light conditions. If you put a Great Horned Owl in a stadium sized room and lit only one candle, there would be enough light for the owl to hunt!
Since Great Horned Owls are well adapted to a variety of conditions, their populations are stable. They can have a negative effect on other raptor populations though. In the 1950s, Peregrine Falcon populations began declining due to the pesticide DDT. Efforts to restore their populations began in the 1970s, but falcon populations have not been reestablished in some rural areas because Great Horned Owls will eat young falcons. Great Horned Owls will also eat young Osprey, another species recovering from the effects of DDT.
Be sure to visit our Great Horned Owls during your next visit to the Sanctuary, and check out the following websites for more information and videos!