The Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus,
is a common owl in Garrett County. This large owl species is
the first bird to nest, beginning in February or even
January in some parts of its expansive range. During this
nesting time, you may catch the familiar
during a still night.
Many people notice the longer feathers on
the owl’s head and call them “ears”. They are called “ear
tufts” but play no role in hearing! Scientists disagree on
the actual function of the ear tufts, but they may be used
in communication between owls or to assist their cryptic
pattern to camouflage them in the trees.
This large owl is definitely not picky
when it comes to its next meal and will eat just about
anything that moves. We would never dream of eating a skunk
because of the pungent odor. However, a Great Horned Owl
would not think twice about making the black and white
striped mammal its next supper!
Make it a goal this month to take a few
walks on still nights and see if you are lucky enough to
hear the hooting of the Great Horned Owl!