Classification and Range
Great horned owls are in the genus Bubo, and the family Strigidae or “typical owls.” There are 12 species of Bubo or “eagle owls” worldwide, however, the great horned owl is the only Bubo species found in the Americas. Great horned owls breed throughout North, Central and South America from western and central Alaska through central and eastern Canada south to Tierra del Fuego at the tip of South America.
Great horned owls occupy a greater variety of habitats than any other owl in North America. They are birds of coniferous, deciduous and mixed forests, desert, swamp, woodland, prairies, farmland and large urban parks. They prefer areas with open areas for hunting and at least a few scattered trees for perching.
Great horned owls are large dark gray-brown owls with distinct feathered “ear tufts” and large yellow eyes. They have a buff facial disc outlined in black and a distinct white patch on the throat. The breast is tawny with many tiny dark bars; the back is darker and mottled. They average 22 inches (55 cm) in length with a wingspan of about 45 inches (113 cm). Weight typically ranges from 2.5 to 4.5 pounds (1.1-2.0 kg). As with most owls the females are larger than the males but otherwise they are similar in appearance.
Great horned owls have lived more than 35 years in captivity.