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Great Horned Owls Courting

Great Horned Owls are staking out territories and beginning courtship rituals in northern New England. Their “songs” are typically given with their beak closed, as they lean forward and cock their tail up (see photo). When calling, their white throat feathers are pronounced as their throat swells.

The hooting of a Great Horned Owl can be compared to the sound of a distant foghorn – it is soft, and somewhat subdued, with no strong accent on any one hoot. Pairs often synchronize their deep sonorous territorial songs, a custom which is referred to as “duetting.” The higher-pitched female calls a six or seven-note song and the male responds with a deeper five-note song during or within a few seconds after the female’s song.  The chances of hearing a Great Horned Owl are somewhat greater after midnight than before. To hear Great Horned Owl territorial calls and duetting go to (Thanks to Vermont Institute of Natural Science for photo op.)

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1-19-16  great horned owl calling 289

5 responses

  1. Karen Burns



    January 20, 2016 at 8:35 am

  2. Isn’t he handsome?!

    January 20, 2016 at 10:24 am

  3. Michael Robinson




    January 20, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    • I’m not sure what you are referring to, but I have no control over WordPress. There was a photo of a great horned owl, and a link to an “All About Birds” recording of great horned owls, but there was no photo to click on. So sorry for your inconvenience.

      January 20, 2016 at 6:54 pm

  4. Fascinating info as always Mary. I absolutely love this photo…. almost like an owl-rooster! I had no idea owls could take on a posture like this. Would be so wonderful to see a Great Horned Owl in the wild!

    January 21, 2016 at 11:51 am

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