Great horned owl nest near Savannah, Georgia

Great horned owl nest near Savannah, Georgia

The Savannah Great Horned Owl Camera is located approximately 80 feet above one of six Audubon International certified golf courses at The Landings on Skidaway Island near Savannah, Georgia. The Nest Cam is introduced to the public by Skidaway Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

A pair of Great Horned Owls began using the nest in the fall of 2014 after a pair of Bald Eagles abandoned it. The owls managed to fly away with four owls in 2015 and 2016, but did not return in 2017. The osprey then used the nest every year until January 2022, when a pair of owls were again spotted. They laid an egg on January 17.

Organizers moved the nest location to an adjacent tree in fall 2019 after the original tree died and was removed from the area.

Where do Great Horned Owls live?

The great horned owl lives in many different habitats in North and South America, and the species is the most common in the Americas. Sightings occur as far north as central Alaska and northern Canada and as far south as the southern tip of Argentina.

In North America, Great Horned Owls typically live in secondary forests, swamps, and orchards. They are also found in deciduous, coniferous or mixed forests.

During breeding season, owls avoid tundra and unbroken grasslands in favor of treed and overgrown areas. In the desert, they will use cliffs or junipers to nest.

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How do I attract Great Horned Owls to my garden?

You can attract Great Horned Owls to your garden by adding a nesting box for a breeding pair.

Nest boxes for great horned owls should be placed 15 to 45 feet high in trees at least 12 inches wide and with a minimum spacing of 1.5 miles, says NestWatch. Add nest boxes in the fall when male owls begin to claim territory and pairs begin to hoot each other. The owl nesting season begins at the end of winter.

Owls will often take up residence in a nest left by other large birds such as eagles and hawks or, as in the case of savannah great horned owls, osprey. Great horned owls add little or no material to their nest.

With a trail camera set up, editor Laura Erickson found a great horned owl using a feeding tray as a hunting perch.

Visit the NestWatch website for more tips and to download nesting box construction plans for Great Horned Owls and other backyard birds.

How are Great Horned Owls identified?

Identify Great Horned Owls by the two tufts of feathers on their head and their broad, rounded wings. These thick-bodied birds can be up to 2 feet long, weigh about 5.5 pounds, and have a wingspan of nearly 5 feet.

For the most part, Great Horned Owls are grayish-brown with reddish-brown faces and a white throat patch. Birds differ in color by region; those in the Pacific Northwest are dark sooty, while they are paler and grayer in the southwest. In the subarctic regions of Canada, they are almost white.

Juvenile owls have fluffy down.

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What do Great Horned Owls eat?

Great horned owls primarily eat mammals and birds, such as rats, mice, squirrels, ducks, hawks, and small owls. They will also occasionally eat reptiles, fish, and carrion to supplement their diet.

In winter, Great Horned Owls may store uneaten prey, later returning to the frozen carcass and sitting on it to thaw.

What time of day do Great Horned Owls hunt?

Great horned owls typically hunt at night, using their good hearing and vision in low light conditions to find prey. If food reserves are low, they may start earlier in the evening and continue later in the morning.

Owls spot their prey from a perch and usually pursue it in flight before capturing it. They may also walk on the ground chasing animals around bushes or other obstacles, says All About Birds.

Are Great Horned Owls friendly?

Great horned owls are not friendly with other animals as they are fierce hunters and strong defenders of their nests and territory.

It takes 28 pounds of force to open a great horned owl’s tight talons, and the birds use this deadly grip to sever the spine of their prey. Owls have earned nicknames like “tiger owl” due to their aggressive hunting habits.

Great horned owls will use bill-clapping, hissing, screeching, and screeching to scare off predators. If these strategies don’t work, they will spread their wings and strike with their talons.

Crows, foxes, lynxes, crows, raptors and other animals will try to prey on eggs and nestlings, resulting in the defensive actions of parent owls.