Whoooo, are you? Hoo Hoo, hoo, hoo?
The other night I was out in the woods and I heard a faint hoo, hooo….hoooo! I listened for awhile and I heard an answering hooo, hooo! This is the time of year when Great Horned owls start advertising their territory in preparation for courtship and nesting. The ones that are heard most often at this time of the year are males setting up their territory for attracting a female.
In our area, we have a few different owls, three of the most common owls that are spotted around here are the Great Horned Owl(Bubo virginianus), the Barred Owl (Strix varia), and the Eastern Screech-Owl (Otus asio). The Great Horned Owl is typically somewhere around 22 inches long and is one of our most voracious predators. They will capture many different prey items, from insects, to skunks, to great blue herons. They may also take smaller owls as their prey as well.The bird is a mottled brown and tan color and has large wide-spaced ear tufts, a white throat that sometimes forms a thin V down the chest, and bright yellow eyes. Male great horned’s tend to be a bit smaller than the females. That’s really the only way to tell them apart, should you be fortunate enough to see them side by side in the wild. One sign that these owls are in an area is that crows will often mob the owl, and their long drawn-out caws are an indication of the presence of this owl as it roosts in the trees during the day. If the owl gets annoyed by the mobbing of the crows, it will often change it’s location until the crows move off. This is another way to listen to find out if owls are in the area.
At the museum, we have 2 program owls. Perhaps if you visit the museum, you might just see one of the educators taking a great horned owl out for a stroll.