The Great Horned Owl, scientifically known as Bubo virginianus, is a formidable predator that thrives in the varied landscapes of the entire North American continent. These birds are known for their adaptability, making themselves at home in everything from dense forests to urban environments.
Great Horned Owls have a diverse diet, feasting on rodents, birds, rabbits, and even skunks. Their hunting prowess, aided by keen senses and silent flight, makes them top-notch nocturnal predators, helping to keep populations of small mammals and other prey species in check.
Breeding season for Great Horned Owls in the Midwest typically begins in late winter to early spring. You will hear them in establishing new territories or defending old ones this time of year with their characteristic "Who Who Who" calls. They form monogamous pairs and nest in a variety of locations, from tree cavities to man-made structures like barns. Both parents share the duties of incubating eggs and raising their young.
These owls play a vital role in the ecosystem, helping to maintain balance by controlling prey populations. However, they face threats such as habitat loss due to urbanization and deforestation, as well as pesticide contamination. Conservation efforts are essential to ensure their continued presence in the Midwest and beyond.