An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Great Horned Owls Incubating Eggs

4-1-15 GHO2  240Great Horned Owls are said to have the widest range of nest sites of any bird in North or South America. Like other owls and falcons, this raptor does not build its own nest, but rather relies heavily on abandoned stick nests of diurnal birds of prey. Red-tailed Hawk nests are often usurped, as well as those of Bald Eagles, crows, ravens and herons. Nests may be lined with shreds of bark, leaves, downy feathers from the owl’s breast, fur of prey and trampled pellets. In addition to bird nests, Great Horned Owls also raise their one to four nestlings (usually two) in tree cavities and snags, on cliffs, in deserted buildings, in squirrel nests and even on the ground.

The female Great Horned Owl does all the incubating; the male delivers prey to her at intervals throughout the night. These early nesters have incubated eggs successfully when outside temperatures have been as low as -27°F. Hopefully warmer temperatures will welcome the newly hatched owlets in about a month. (photo: mostly hidden Great Horned Owl in Great Blue Heron nest)

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3 responses

  1. Jackie Bonafide

    Dear Mary, I enjoy your blog and your book so much! Thank you for all the work you put into it! Yesterday my neighbor (Sue Shelton) and I were snowshoeing in the woods and we came across an area about 30′ in diameter where there were lots and lots of small hemlock branches lying on the forest floor. Amid all of the tree litter, including the small hemlock pine cones, we found a lot of some kind of scat–almost the same size as the hemlock pine cones, though some were a little longer. I’m attaching a picture that Sue took. We were thinking that it might be porcupines, though we didn’t see any quills. By this time in early spring, the snow cover has melted & thawed so that if there were animal tracks, we couldn’t distinguish them. Thanks, Jackie Bonafide Sanbornton NH

    April 1, 2015 at 9:18 am

    • Hi Jackie,
      Can you send your photo to me at mholland@vermontel.net? WordPress doesn’t allow me to see photos that are attached to comments! Thank you!

      April 1, 2015 at 10:03 am

  2. Jackie Bonafide

    OOps. Sue did not take the picture. I think she found it on the internet. I took the pictures (see below) to show you some close-ups of the scat as well as a wide-angle view of the area she discovered. Jackie Bonafide

    April 1, 2015 at 10:45 am

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