Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Great horned owl

bubo virginianus

Photo by Brendan Lally (Wikipedia)

Common name:
great horned owl (en); corujão-orelhudo (pt); gran-duc d'Amérique (fr); búho cornudo (es); Virginia-uhu (de)

Order Strigiformes
Family Strigidae

The great horned owl is widely distributed in the Americas, being found from Alaska and northern Canada, to Tierra del Fuego. They are only absent from the densest rain forests in Central America and the Amazon basin, as well as from the Caribbean islands.

These large owls are 43-64 cm long and have a wingspan of 91-153 cm. The males are smaller than the female, weighing 0,9-1,6 kg while the females weigh 1,4-2,5 kg.

The great horned owl is found in various habitats, namely deciduous,coniferous, and mixed forests, tropical rainforests, pampas, prairies, mountainous areas, deserts, subarctic tundra, rocky coasts, mangrove and swamp forests, and some urban areas. They are typically found at altitudes of 450-4.400 m.

These powerful nocturnal predators take a wide range of prey, mostly mammals such as rodents, rabbits, skunks, armadillos, weasels, martens and bats, but also various birds, reptiles such as de snakes, turtles, lizards, and young alligators, amphibians such as frogs, toads, and salamanders and even fish, large insects, scorpions, centipedes, crayfish, worms, spiders, and road killed animals.

The great horned owls breed in December-June. They don't build nests, using abandoned nest of another birds, such as hawks or crows, typically in trees, cliffs, buildings or even on the ground. The female lays 1-5 white eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 27-37 days. The chicks leave the nest 6-7 weeks after hatching, but only become competent fliers at 10-12 weeks old and continue to receive food from their parents for another 2-3 months.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and is described as widespread and relatively common. The population trend is stable and in some areas the great horned owl may pose a threat to endangered species on which they may prey upon.

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