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Great Horned Owls

Scientific Name:  Bubo virginianus

Species Ambassadors:

Katherine the Great and Stan

Katherine (the larger owl) was found on the Nature Center's east loop trail in 1991 suffering from a fractured left wing.  The wing did not heal properly, leaving her unable to catch prey or escape predators. Great Horned Owls mate for life, and every once in a while Katherine’s mate from the wild will visit and bring her gifts in the form of small rodents!

Stan was found at the Grattan Racetrack in 1988 with a broken wing.  His wing fused in an awkward position during healing leaving him unable to fly to catch food and defend himself from predators in the wild.

Status of Great Horned Owls in Michigan

This species is a common year-round resident of Michigan.


Great Horned Owls make four to six deep hoots: hoo-hoo-hoooo hoo-hoo or eat-my-food, I’ll-eat-you. They also can whinny like horse when irritated or in pain. The most common noise is the clicking sound made by their beaks.

      Click below to hear Great Horned Owls!          Typical Hoo-hoo-hoo call:


Great Horned Owls prefer forests with clearings, croplands, woodlots, meadows, riparian woodlands, and the wooded areas around suburban parks, landfills, and town dumps.


Great Horned Owls are the deadliest hunters in the owl family, hunting from perches near open areas. They are nocturnal, but will sometimes hunt at dusk or during the day in the winter. They eat mainly small mammals (including skunks), as well as birds, snakes, amphibians, fish and other species of owls!   

Importance Of Great Horned Owls in Our Ecosystems

Like most owls, Great Horned Owls help keep nocturnal small mammal populations in check.

Threats to Great Horned Owls

There are currently no threats to this species.

Interesting Fact

-The Great Horned Owl is the only animal known that regularly eats skunks!

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