When I decided to embark on this venture last week, I was very surprised to look back through my posts (there are 120 of them, but the way, so lots of stuff to look back through if you're interested) and see that I haven't yet written about myself! I mean, it doesn't get much cooler than Great Horned Owls, and Great Horned Owls don't get much cooler than me, sooo...I don't know what happened. But rest assured, that all changes now. Without any further ado:
WHY GREAT HORNED OWLS ARE AMAZING, INCREDIBLE, AND AWESOME, AND PRETTY MUCH THE COOLEST OWLS OUT THERE
(is that too much? ...Nah...)
Man, I don't even know where to start. Should I talk first about how big and strong we are, or about our hunting habits, or maybe about our ability to live just about anywhere? I know, let's start with the basics: size and shape and all that.
Great Horned Owls are the largest of the owls found in Colorado. The heaviest North American owl is the Snowy Owl, and they're just a little heavier than Great Horned Owls. Great Horned Owls usually weigh between 1.5 and 5.5 pounds, which is as little as a 700 ml bottle of pop, or as much as two Nalgene bottles of water, but we don't generally weigh more than 3.5 pounds around here.
last week's post about owls. I added some diagrams of asymmetrical owl ears.) The "horns" are called ear tufts, and they help us blend into tree bark by mimicking the back pattern and breaking up the smooth outline of the head, like so:
|Comparison of tufted and non-tufted owls|
As for coloration, there's actually a lot of variation. Some Great Horned Owls are dark with striking contrast, and others are paler. Some have a vivid white collar, others have the barest hint of one. But one thing all Great Horned Owls have is gigantic yellow eyes. The better to see you with, my dear. In fact, if Humans had eyes proportional to Great Horned Owl eyes, their eyes would be the size of oranges:
facial discs because we're largely nocturnal. During the dusk and dark hours we hunt a wide variety of prey, but rabbits make up a large portion of our diet, as well as small- to medium-sized rodents. We kill our prey with our feet, like all raptors, but we have beefier feet than many raptors, with 300 pounds per square inch of crushing power. That makes pretty quick work of a mouse, I can assure you.
If you were a Great Horned Owl, you would be very lucky indeed, for you could count the following among your best traits:
|Adult and immature|
- Being very adaptable: We are able to live in almost any environment, from swampland to cities, and are the most widespread owl in the Americas.
- Good parenting: We take care of our young for a long time compared to most raptors, keeping an eye on them for as long as seven months after hatching.
- Pest controller: We help keep rodent and rabbit populations in check by preying on them as our dominant food source.
- Awesomeness: We're beautiful and awe-inspiring, and who doesn't like that?
|Getting an eye exam - eye trauma is common in impact injuries|
That's all I have for now. If I keep going I'll start talking about how awesome I am instead of my entire species. Thank you for reading, and I hope you learned something! Stay tuned next week for a profile on the Common Barn Owl. I'll show you how very uncommon they are. As always, you can email me with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow me on Twitter @RaptorProgram, check us out on Facebook (Rocky Mountain Raptor Program), and find out more information and stories on our main website. If you would like to subscribe to this blog, use the box in the toolbar to the right.
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*Answer: only when making references to the "how many licks" Tootsie-Pop commercial, which, by the way, is entirely inaccurate: owls are only concerned with biting. Lots of biting. Oh, and taloning. That too.