Great Horned Owls! A guest post by ORI intern Jase Frost
Great Horned Owls!
An owl species that can be found all over North America, and they are interesting! Great Horneds in the Mission Valley often eat Meadow Voles and Montane Voles. The Mission Valley is having a high vole year, so these are readily available, however, even in low vole years these owls will eat larger prey such as pheasants and waterfowl.
One of the most interesting things about Great Horned Owls is their breeding activities. They can be seen displaying courtship behaviors (such as territory defense, finding nests, and hooting) much earlier than most owls, usually in the early winter. Many Great Horned Owl couples choose to nest in snags and hollows because they do not build their own nests. Others nest in the stick nests of Red-tailed Hawks, Magpies, and even Eagles!
Great Horned Owls also mate for life and in the Mission Valley, pairs often produce eggs every year! Some pairs my nest early for a few reasons, such as long incubation and parental care periods before young are independent, food availability, favorable weather conditions, and nests may be located in warmer microclimates like buildings and tree cavities.
Text and images compiled and created by Jase Frost, Ronan High School student and ORI intern