The Great Horned Owl is the largest owl found in Indiana. A mature owl will grow up to 1 ½ to 2 feet tall with a wingspan from 3 to 5 feet across. Their name originates due to their long, “horn-like” feathers on their heads. These large owls can be found throughout North and South America. Their mottled color tone varies from each region’s environment, from a dark soot pattern to a white pattern.
Like many owls, they are passive during the daylight hours and nocturnally active during the night hours. Most of their hunting activity peaks after sunset and before sunrise. They hunt mainly from a high vantage point scanning the area for prey. Their eyes cannot move in their sockets, but instead their heads swivel more than 180 degrees to look in any direction. Their diet consists of mostly small mammals and birds, but can hunt 2 to 3 times its size. Their short but broad wings allow them to fly with great maneuverability, and their extremely soft feathers make it nearly impossible to hear them during flight. On large prey, they dig their talons into their backs to sever the spine to immobilize their prey.
Great Horned Owls can live up to 13 years in the wild. They are known for their deep ‘hooting’ call, usually 4 to 5 stuttering hoots. Many people enjoy replicating their call and watching them curiously flying into view.