Birds & Birding

The Hooting Season: Enjoying Great Horned Owls

Now is the time to enjoy great horned owls setting up their nesting territories. Photo: © Nick Hall for The Nature Conservancy

In this season of cold, snow and holiday music, the North American bird breeding and nesting season seems months away.

It’s not until the trees begin to bud and flowers bloom that the birdsong fills the air.

And that’s true. But not for great horned owls.

Now is the time to enjoy the great horned owl breeding season – a time when these charismatic birds are much easier to see and hear.

It’s the hooting season.

Don a winter cap and head out to your local park or walking trail to enjoy one of the season’s coolest spectacles. Here’s what you need for your next owl outing.

The great horned owl is an abundant and adaptable bird species throughout the Americas. Photo: © Sergio Pucci
The great horned owl is an abundant and adaptable bird species throughout the Americas. Photo: © Sergio Pucci

Into Owl Territory

The great horned owl, of course, is one of the most recognizable birds in the Americas, with its pointy feather tufts (the “horns”) and large fluffy appearance.

This is the prototypical “wise old owl,” and the owl of cartoons and children’s books.

It’s also incredibly adaptable, found from Canada to Patagonia, and most places in between. It is at home in desert and wetland, forest and prairie. And it also has no trouble thriving around people: you can find them in parks, farms, small woodlots, suburbs and cities.

Despite this, they’re not always easy to spot due to their nocturnal habits. But at this time of year, in the right location, a chorus of hoots provides the soundtrack to dawn and dusk.

That’s because, around October, male great horned owls begin setting up territories. Most great horned owls mate for life, but in the fall the pair begin a courtship display, loudly calling to each other.

The great horned owl’s hoot is pretty much unmistakable, although ornithology web sites often describe it in different ways. A common hooting pattern is a longer hoooooot, followed by two or three shorter hoots.

And these owls have a range of other vocalizations, too, some of which sound like barks or a screeching cat. (Cornell’s All About Birds site features some great audio of these different calls).

The owls continue setting up their territory this month, and begin setting up a nest.

They’ll use an abandoned nest previously used by a red-tailed hawk, squirrel or other critter. Come January, they’ll begin setting in the nest – far earlier than most other birds.

A great horned owl nest. Photo: © Scott Copeland
A great horned owl nest. Photo: © Scott Copeland

Why Do Owls Nest So Early?

Nesting early naturally entails some risk. Eggs must be kept warm and incubated, which can be a challenge when the temperature is in the single digits and snow is falling.

Female owls stay on the nest for prolonged periods (and when they leave to hunt, the male will take over).

If the eggs become too cold, they won’t hatch. This is why most birds wait until temperatures are warm and mild.

So: why nest early?

Owls are large birds. It takes them longer to grow and mature than, say, a songbird.

Young great horned owls must also master complex hunting maneuvers. They are equipped with superb senses – researchers have found that a great horned owl can hear a mouse rustling at 900 feet – but hunting still involves learning, trial and error.

Early hatching means they’re ready to practice their flying and hunting skills when the weather is mild and prey is abundant.

Look for the distinctive owl outlines in tree branches. Photo: © Chris Pague/TNC
Look for the distinctive owl outlines in tree branches. Photo: © Chris Pague/TNC

Enjoying the Owl Show

There’s likely a great horned owl territory near you. Now you just need to find it.

While owls can live in a variety of habitats, you won’t find them just anywhere. Focus on the edges. Owls prefer to have a good vantage point – a place where they can see out over the terrain.

Trees that overlook an open area are ideal. In particular, try to find a big-limbed tree that has shed its leaves (or a dead one). You can often find owls roosting there.

You can do a bit of scouting, too. Owls regurgitate the indigestible hair and bones of their prey: called owl pellets. You can often find a number of these pellets below preferred trees. (You can often reassemble the bones of mice by dissecting an owl pellet, another fun wintertime activity).

Of course, the easiest way to spot owls is not by looking, but listening. Those haunting hoots carry a long way. Sometimes you almost feel those hoots before you see them.

Once you hear the hooting, look carefully in likely trees, and you may be able to see the distinctive profile of the owl. Look through a binocular, and don’t be surprised if the owl is staring back at you.

It pays to quietly observe the owls for a while. I’ve been able to watch some interesting behavior, including owls mating.

Photo: © Marty Cordano
Photo: © Marty Cordano

My Owl Connection

Family lore holds that, long before I could utter words, I would lie in my crib and hoot like an owl. Perhaps my naturalist path was set, even then.

That story has been in my thoughts this year, as I prepare for the birth of my own son. The great horned owls, it seems, are everywhere. I see them perched on trees around our home and along the greenbelt jogging path; hear their calls in the canyons and river bottoms.

I’m always alert to the local wildlife, but this year, I can’t help but pay extra attention to all that owl activity.

I wake up in the middle of the night, thinking of my son and the world he’ll inhabit. And then, there it is: that deep hoot, hoot, hooting.

It seems to fill the room.

I snuggle under the covers and smile, filled with the hope that my son will find such comfort and joy in the wild things and their always-interesting ways.

Join the Discussion

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  1. Awesome article. Please post if there’s any spottings in NYC area or Long Island My daughter would love to see them

  2. Great info but very important to add that you should not get too close to the nest or disturb the owls in any way. If you are altering their behavior, you are disturbing them.

  3. Here’s a wonderful opportunity to get “up close” without endangering or disturbing these beautiful and majestic birds. I’m obsessed with this live feed of a nesting great horned owl on Skidaway Island, Georgia. She has taken up residence in what was originally a bald eagle nest and is caring for two eggs.

  4. I believe one of these lives in very close proximity to my house. Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoooooooo. I’ve been hearing that noise outside my window for years. I actually hear it from springtime throughout the entire summer. Could it be a great horned owl?

  5. Hi Matt. Has it been definitively proven that Great Horned owls have no learning involved with hoots? This week I heard a mother owl and two of here fledged owlets, a male and a female. As I listened to the youngsters gargled hoots I heard them seem to improve into more reliable adult hoots. I know the mother’s hoots from over five years of listening. I also can recognize the younger male parent. The two youngsters were differentiable from each other by higher and lower tones. Am I just imagining or is this possible? Thanks for reading this, Rick.

  6. Finding a great horned owl is on my bucket list.. I just love these incredible birds but have never been able to see one in the wild. I’ve heard them by my home in Sayville, NY.. Even went outside at 2am in my pajamas when I heard one across the street.. Couldn’t find it! It was probably watching me and laughing!

  7. I live in a great little town in the central California coast called Nipomo. I live in a fruit orchard on the edge of a cops of Eucalyptus trees. Very large trees! There seem to be at least four owls that I have spotted and they are hooting daytime and night. I don’t remember this kind of frequency before. Sadly, I have noticed lost kitty posters posted in the neighborhood. Not LOST kitties.

  8. One very late warm night here in NW Wisconsin, In late September ,,I enjoyed the company of a migrating Northern Saw-whet Owl. I was sitting out on my porch and a small owl alighted on one of the hangers for my pots of plants. I stayed very still watching him and soon he flew to a closer hanger. The dimmed outdoor house light over my shoulder provided just enough light to make out his beautiful feathers and intelligent eyes. Then he flew even closer as I remained still. We silently enjoyed watching each other for over an hour. What a great experience!

  9. I live in West Grove PA
    Southern Chester county
    I layed in bed wondering what this noise was over and over, after some quick research, I found out that it is this Great Horned Owl that you have written about..
    I have layed here for over an hour listening to him…
    How fascinating….

  10. Today, two owls adopted our cluster of Palm trees. They sat up there continuously for last 10 hours. I wonder if they are visiting or thinking about nesting in Sun Lakes, Arizona.

  11. I wonder if you can answer a question for me. I have had Great Horned Owls nesting in the woods behind my house for the past 7 or more years. I love how the pair hoot and “sing” to each other. A couple of weeks ago I saw the pair in two tall adjacent pine trees hooting. I also saw 2 hawks circling the area. After that I have not heard the owls. I was wondering if they laid their eggs and are quieter now or if the hawks get into the eggs or something else.

    I miss their hooting and hope all is well. For weeks I listen to them as I fall asleep. Last year I actually had one of the adults hunting in my yard while I heard the screeching of a hungry owlet.

    My question is…Is is normal for the owls to go quiet while rousting on their nest? It is February in Michigan (Grand Rapids area) and I think they lay their eggs around now. I am concerned about my owls and hope they are ok.

  12. do the owls stop hooting by the end of February? I have been hearing 2 of them for 3 months and now all of a sudden they have stopped?

  13. Wonderful story. I have a few questions. I have lived in my home with my mother for 15 years and never have we heard owls. This year around January 2016 WD started to hear the lovely songs of a owl hooting. We became more interested and started paying more attention and reading up on the amazing owls. One morning while leaving we saw it it flew directly on top of the barn next to my house and it was amazing. After that we have seen the owl a few more times. We are awaken every night between 12-2 and then 4-6 to hear the hoot hoot hooo. We are wondering if it’s a male or female and if it lives close as we would love to observe the owl while not disturbing it. We can hear this owl and it sounds like it’s right outside in the tree and then a faint call back witch seems to be about 7 blocks away. I’m wondering if u could answer a few questions or direct me in the right path. How large are the owls territory and if we hear the owl close is it most likely the owl is roosting close. And and all info will b greatly appreciated as we just want to learn as much as we can without disturbing the owl or owls. Thanks amber.

    1. Hi Amber,
      Many thanks for your comments and questions. Great horned owls are really fantastic birds, aren’t they? As far as the size of the owl’s territory: the territory size depends on density of prey in the area and also the owl population. If there is a lot of prey, owl territories are smaller. From your comment, it would appear you are in the midst of an owl territory but the nest could still be a fair distance away.

      Female great horned owls are larger than males, but it can be hard to tell if you just see one. A pair shares a territory. Watch closely and you may see two owls, or hear them calling back and forth to each other.

      Great horned owls are adaptable to humans — they can live in city parks, neighborhoods, farms, etc. Hopefully you will have many years of owl viewing near your home!


  14. I have a question-
    Last night-May22,2016-there was an owl hooting match in the woods adjoining our house- It went on for hours and sounded like more than a parliament arguing about the budget if you know what I mean. My dogs were very disturbed as well. I thought that horned owls mated in Jan. What was the commotion going on last night?
    Any ideas?

    1. Hi Gloria,
      Thanks for your comment. While great horned owls do mate in the winter, they are active year round. I have heard wild hooting throughout the spring. Owls pair up for life, and call to each other to reinforce the pair bond. So you can hear them at any time of year.

  15. Late to the “party”, but this is the info I was seeking.
    We moved into our new home in northern Idaho in February….and heard the beautiful, haunting hoots of a pair of GHO’s nearby. Then they stopped, but I heard nocturnal noises (chirps & chatter) which I later learned came from GHO’s as well. Turns out we came on the scene later in the courtship and are now entertained by the juveniles. Fascinating creatures. I enjoy taking a few minutes at the end of the day & eavesdrop on the feathered family.

  16. Wonderful article. I really enjoyed learning more than what I came looking for. 🙂 I live in N.Fla. just a walk from the Suwanee River. We have seen owls over the last 40 years on our farm but lately they are right in the trees around the house and just began 3-4 weeks ago, during the start of our hottest months. Well, all months are basically hot here in Florida. But I was just wondering why the change in location and season. As your son is probably walking and hooting now, I wish you all the best days with him. Spend every moment you can with him and treasure them all. Thanks again from Florida.

  17. I had some great Horned owls hooting in my yard at night…I mimicked their hoot f and they came even closer! It was very kool…they actually answered…

  18. I live in southern Saskatchewan Canada. We have a cabin on a small lake, we have great horned owls that have taken up residency here.
    I have seen them a few times and love hearing their hoots.
    Last night they were hooting back and forth it was magical!

  19. Beautifully written and full of insight. Thank you! And best wishes to you and your family! Happy Hooting!

  20. I am on the northern skirt of Houston Tx. Where I am is called Cypress Tx. I live in an old subdivision
    honored by trees that have been long before the homes that surround them. For the past 2 month at night began to hear the HOOT, HOOT, Hooooooing sound. I have lived hear for about ten years. First time for this wonderful but hard to pin-point sound. Often sounded like it was in my front yard but as soon as I would sneak closer it was the next yard, then the next, but actually down low in the yard. Not trees. At first I thought it was a sick or hurt animal. Soooo loud so close to the ground. Our area is known for hawks. Never this sound. With a Little more internet research I have found I have a great horned owl making a home on my street. Today is Oct. 30 and I am out once again chancing the sound. I find tonight it is mirrored by another. It’s a pair! I’ve read this is common, but I know most every squirrel, possum , raccoon, frog and of course hawk , and even the worst, blue Jay (The worst parents in the world by the way my opinion) in my yard so this is very exciting for me. Especially now that I know its not a sick crane or odd reptile. I know that sounds strange but the nights I followed the sound it was down low, just assumed it had to have 4 legs. I know now, it was getting food. Just unexpected. Youst to swooping hawks in the day, plus thought all owls these days were rare and fig newtons of the imagination unless you lived near a barn or standing next to a painting of one. Glad to know I’m wrong. Would like mention in our subdivision newsletter so every one can help the pair to have a happy home here and babies, but don’t know if calling attention would help do exactly that or the opposite . Regardless, as an individual that is called squirrel girl by those that luv me, named re-acquiring critters in my yard- raccoon (sketchy Geoff) rabbit-(jerry lewis) and possums too many to count, I’ve accidently pulled out of our outdoor kitty house to bring in kittys at night, would like to know anything at all that I/neighbors can do to help or improve there chances to survive. These days its hard for us humans to make it as a pair, seems like even tougher to be an Owl pair. Thank you in advance for any help or advice you can share.
    Cyndi Geary

  21. I live in Apple Valley, California, which is about halfway between Las Vegas and Los Angeles – we call it the high desert, as opposed to Palm Springs, which is low desert. About a month ago I started hearing owls hooting and finally discovered two Great Horned Owls sitting in a large palm tree in the yard. They appear to have their eyes closed until they hear the bell on my little poodle’s collar, then I can see their eyes following my dog. I would like to know if I should be concerned about them swooping down and grabbing my dog. I think at fourteen pounds, she is probably too big for them to carry off, but I’m sure they could quite a bit of damage if they tried to grab her. I really like hearing the owls every evening and want them to stay because they’ve been catching the rabbits that destroyed my lawn this year.

  22. I am curious as I have had this great horned owl outside my balcony window perched on a branch for the past three years. He comes and goes but every pre sunset and again around 11pm he perches on this same tree outside my window and hoots until I hoot back usually having to get up out of bed. Once he hears my hoot he seems to settle and flys off. If I don’t he keeps on going. It’s a strange ritual. Also sometimes we will come home in the evening and he’ll be on a different tree by our car at the front but by the time we get up our four flights he’s beat us to it around the back of our condo back on his tree hooting. Once I went to take garbage out I’m on fourth floor and he startled me as he was literally on my roof staring down at me. We hooted and he left. Can you shed light to any of this. My husband thinks he fancies me. I think it’s my wise old owl Dad watching over me?.

  23. My owl has been single for the past three years. Does he think that I am his mate with me mimicking his hoot? I am starting to wonder this now as he has been getting slowly closer to my balcony. Is it possible he thinks I am another owl? Also he seems to stick around all year. We live on a golf course in Florida and sometimes we take walks and he watches us but this is in daylight so he is in clear vision just staring down on us. As we walk around we look up and he’s moved to the roof watching us. Then he visits at night too and hoots outside our bedroom window until I hoot back. After that he will leave.. I have grown very attached to him and will miss him when we move to NC in March. Are there any Great Horned Owls in NC do you know?

  24. Matt, thank you for the “owl info”. I live in Kansas and have been listening at night to several owls.
    I am trying to distinguish which is male and which is female. Any insight on that would be great.
    I plan to listen for the rest of the winter and hopefully get to see some young ones next spring.
    Thanks Again, Debbi M.

  25. So why is it, if your inside and get binoculars, they would be staring back at you? Owls scare me i cant sleep that hoo hooo hooo hooooo hoooo, I’m sorry isnt majestic its FREAKY past 4 years tree right outside my window

  26. There is hooting going on up in New Smyrna Beach area. The two owls are in separate trees, but hoot back and forth around 9:30 at night . We have Hugh oak trees that survived Hurricane Matthew this Fall. Haven’t heard them much, but, I see poop under the tree. So, I guess she is nesting. I hope she is there. So exciting.

  27. Hi, we live in NW Arkansas in a Bentonville neighborhood and have a pair in our back yard. Our home is adjacent to a large field with a hedge row about 200 yards away. Clearly it is a good habitat with prey species nearby and we see coyotes, crows, hawks and an occasional Bald Eagle hunting there. I hunt turkeys, coyotes & deer in AR, KS, MO & NE and enjoy observing nature including owls but my wife does not have much contact with nature except for song birds she feeds. She is fascinated by the owls’ hooting but intolerant of hawks, roaming house cats, etc. preying on “her” birds including Bluebirds, Baltimore Orioles, et al. Maybe I should suggest that owls prey primarily on house cats?!

    I enjoyed your article! Thanks!

  28. I started hearing the hooting of owls in my backyard just today! I was surprised to hear it over and over especailly during the day. I finally saw one perched on a tree with a couple of crows bothering it. This all was so new and exciting to see. I googled owl howling and came upon your article. You have explained plainly why this is happening. Your article was so interesting and to the point of my experience today. So as I have walked out into the cold evening air and listened, I now know what is happening. Thanks for sharing this info.

  29. Matt,
    Do great horned owls come back year after year to the same hunting grounds once they
    have lived in a nest and hunted there? Do their young tend to come back to the same area where they were nested? We did hear growling one night wondering where it came from, or if we heard it at all. lol
    Thanks from a Mom in Illinois, whose kids didn’t have to go very far to find the owl palettes needed for their science report on owls! I love nature. It is a free show that captivated our children year round.

  30. The Great Horned are in the woods behind my house
    They have been there for a number of years
    An owlet fledged into our yard.
    We have a photo
    We had an excellent vantage point as it flew into a leaf-bare elm and called to its parents in a loud screechy voice for mealtime.
    We watched as it flew after a last visit from a parent beginning its life as a wild animal
    It had been ours for 2 1/2 weeks
    Beautiful large birds

  31. I liked this. I wake up many nights hearing two owls hooting back and forth to each one has a much deeper, almost calming hoot. while the otherone is higher pitched. I feel good when I hear them, but have a concern because I don’t know much about owls. I haven’t found their nest yet.

  32. Hi Matt… I can’t agree more the comfort it brings is wormth. I have always looked for owls but few times in life have I had the chance to see them. So it came as much surprise that while I was dosing off to sleep last night I heard the long beep hoots. One calling to another. I’ve never slept so happy in my life.

  33. This is good ! Our Local owl in brighton is behaving just as you said ! And we spotted his / her silloutte in a large oak tree through the binoculars . Thanks Matt
    Rick and Cecilia , brighton , Colorado

  34. This is a heartfelt and informational article. I’m glad I googled and found it. I hope the son you mention is beginning to toddle and explore like his father. We have a pair of owls in our backyard this year (we have before, but they seem particularly content this year). I live in a suburb but have a expansive tree lined backyard. I look forward to seeing them in the morning and in the evening. Every day when I come home from work, I sneak around my house to look for them before they flee. I love my dog, but he does sometimes scare them off. But, each day they’ve been returning. I, too, actually witnessed them mating just last week-twice! My husband finds them interesting too, but I think he humors me. My friends just don’t get it. These beautiful creatures are majestic and so highly adapted. The silent flight amazes me. I have mostly been wondering why they hoot as much as they do-sometimes long into the night if they aren’t disturbed. Anyway, I’m sorry to ramble…thank you for allowing me to express my mutual admiration for this amazing creature. And thank you for the information in your article.

  35. Hi Matt,
    Exactly one year ago, a stranger I met up with a stranger in the woods who noticed I was carrying a camera. She led me to a pair of fur trees where I discovered my newest feathered friend, a sleeping great horned owl. I call him Waldo as he blends in so perfectly with the tree bark, the only way to spot him is to catch a glimpse of his tufted ears. For 2 months I quietly visited Waldo and was able to capture some pretty amazing pictures. The icing on the cake was when I discovered his mate and an owlet in the same tree! I returned in December 2016 and was so happy to see Mom and Dad asleep in the same tree. But sadly, I have not seen them since. I know they never use the same nest, but these trees appeared to be their daytime resting area. I feel so sad and am worried something may have happened to them. Any thoughts?

  36. Thank you Matt for this article. I truly enjoyed reading it – especially the part where you express your joy upon waking in the middle of the night to the sound of a hooting Great Horned Owl! Two nights ago I too was awakened by this extrordinary blessed hooting that was coming from a few pines we have next to our bedroom window. I, like you, just lay there, snuggled under the covers, smiling and listening to this owl and thought “My what a wonderful world”!

  37. Hi Matt,I have had red tail hawks for the last 4 years in a huge pine tree in my back yard. I had a infrared camera put in the tree. 64 feet high the hawks continued refurbishing their nest it’s the middle of March I don’t think they are coming back this year,I’ve noticed on the camera a great horned Owl comes into the nest in the early morning hours an hoots an stays 15-20 minutes then flys away.Is it possible the owl may be using the hawk nest this year to raise a family this year?
    If so I’m in Ga next to Tennessee Georgia state line so when do owls start nesting? I hope one or the other
    start soon can’t wait to watch.
    Thank You Frankie:

  38. I live in Central Florida. The weather is starting to warm up a lot. I have heard the sound of an animal “growling” as I walk in the very early, still dark, mornings. The growling appears to be coming from a tree. It is a hollow, vibrato of a howl; not like the growl of a dog. At first I thought it might be some type of frog…I wanted to know if you think it could be an owl. Would they build a nest in a residential area?
    I have only seen an owl one time and that was in Panama.

    1. Hi Loretta, They will nest in residential areas, so it could be an owl. Thank you for the question!

  39. Beautiful story………I did not know they started so early in the season to nest! I awakened at 5 this morning to hooting; I loved it. This is before Thanksgiving. Saw a great horned owl here on NM for the first time in my life, right before dusk – very thrilled. I lived in central NJ for years and never saw one, but do miss the beautiful cardinals, which are not here, it seems.

  40. Pretty cool little article. Thanks
    I’ve been uo since 5 Am listening to one in a small
    motte of live oaks at the edge of our yard. Its stopped right at 7 AM just as hints
    of light appeared. This has been going on frequently since November 2017.
    Like you I was fascinated by owls apparently as a toddler.
    My mother told me many times my first words were “hoot ow”
    apparently because they had a bird picture book for me to look at.
    Thanks for a coll bit of writing.
    Will Fraser
    retired oil and gas geoscientist

  41. Hi Matthew,
    Thank you for the enjoyable article about Great Horned Owls. I had my interest in GHOs intrude (nicely) into my life when a pair set up housekeeping about 300 feet from my bedroom window.

    I believe that you might want to make a correction, however. Since I now have GHOs as neighbors, I saw only the female GHO sit on the nest and brood the eggs. Cornell University’s website notes that only the female Great Horned Owl has a brood patch on her underside, so the male is unable to warm the eggs. (I have seen this also on the Savannah Owl nest in 2016, now an Osprey nest at: Thus, Great Horned Owls each have a separate duty when raising a brood of owlets. The female sits the eggs and the male brings in the fresh meat.

    In response to the number of posts below that discuss how owls ‘sing’ with their hooting, I am sharing a website at the International Owl Center site that provides recordings of male and female GHOs. The males have deeper voices and the females voices are higher-pitched. They are similar to humans in their gender-based voice tonality. Their sounds tell their stories:

    from The International Owl center:

    Double check your facts about GHOs and egg brooding. It is the essence of good science. (It’s too bad that I cannot post a picture, I have some good ones of my neighbor owls.)



  42. Thank you for the informative article. I live in Monterey County on the former Fort Ord military base, which is now California State University Monterey Bay. We have two hoots owls here that are actively hooting now in January. They sit above near by roofs and hoot to each other. Last year I read that the hooting is to establish or defend terroritory – but now – after reading this article – I wonder if they are mates. Thoughts on establishment of territory hoots versus mating hoots? Whichever it is – it is pure magic to listen to.


  43. Hi

    I hope you are well.
    Your photos are really awesome.
    I need one of your photos for the cover art of my book. That photo is an owl with the title: “The Hooting Season: Enjoying Great Horned Owls” take on DECEMBER 8, 2014.
    Can I use this photo?
    This book is my poem.
    I have not received any money from the place for printing this book.


  44. I cannot find any information online regarding, “after mating, how long before a Great Horned Owl will lay her eggs?”

    Hope you can help?

    Regards, Wayne

  45. I am fortunate to have a horned owl roosting in my tree here in San Tan Valley Arizona my question is it’ll Roost there for about a week and then I won’t see him roosting in the tree for 3 or 4 days and then he is back for a week. So do they have different roost in there territory.

  46. Had trees removed and two approx. 3 week old horned owlets (judging by fluff and feathers) fell with the tree. The nest was probably up there 70′. They survived and local authority had us make a nest with a laundry basket and put it in a tree if the parents are around. The two of them fill the basket. A snowstorm is predicted. Haven’t seen adults yet. Have questions no one will answer and I don’t know what to do.

    1. Hi Laura, Thank you for your comment! I think your best option is to look for a wildlife rescue or rehabilitation center in your area and call them for advice. You might also try your state natural resources or wildlife department. Best of luck!

  47. Great a horned owls in my back yard.
    Two siblings stayed together on the tree for a few days without mom or dad.
    Now there is just one.
    Do they usually separate.?

  48. Great Article. I was looking for info on GHO as I have a nest in my yard in a 85 ft white pine tree. I live in Dix Hills, Long Island. These are amazing birds, however my wife is so concerned for our 14 lb pekapoo dog (pekingese poodle mix). There are two very large fledgling in the nest and visible on the branch all day long. They can been seen stretching their wings often. I have taken lots of photos and I am fascinated with these birds. So they won’t reuse the nest again? Will the fledglings fly off to a new area to inhabit or will they stay in the area?

  49. Just heard some hooting in my new house in DE (mid-June). Two males. Might they be planning their territory now? I live near Bombay Hook National Wildlife Reserve.

  50. We have had a pair of Great Horned Owls living on our farm for longer than 15 years. This year however a barn owl showed up and seems to be harrassing the birds…The Great Horned calls for her mate all times of day and night, I see them often in the day. I am not sure if they are both here still, or if the Barn owl has been sucessful in taking over the shed in which i see them most often. I love my Great Horned Owls and would hate to think of them being pushed out of their home. Is there any way i can tell what is really going on?

  51. My home backs up to farm land, vineyards in California. We have 3 large great horned owls that perch during the night on the top of a few telephone poles. There hoot is quite loud. How far will an owl travel at night to hunt? Is it likely they live close or do they travel far from home ?

  52. The owls in Upstate South Carolina, just a bit south of Charlotte Douglas International, have been our neighbors ever since we moved here around 10-years ago. Along with many other interesting birds, the Great Horned Owl and the Coopers Hawk, have always lived in or near our property on Lake Wylie. The hawks are visible in the daytime, so I get to enjoy them visually more often than the owls. They will sometimes just sit in the trees around our yard and watch me as I come and go.
    But back to the owls. It’s October 30th, just in time for Halloween, and it seems that the owls communications with each other have really peaked. Even as I write this, in the early morning hours I have enjoyed their calling back and forth to each other. Sounds like a chorus of 3-4 different birds this morning. What a treat!

  53. This morning, in my back yard, there were two owls! It was wonderful! They sat there for a minute, and then took off. I could still hear them, after they left. I’m hoping they will nest somewhere real close. I got so very close to one! They were great horned with their tufted ears, and hooting. Anything I can do, to get them back?

  54. Hi my name is Nancy I live in a sub division of track homes in New Mexico, 2 back yards behind me in a very big tree a horned owl lives during the day. Has been there all year. now that the leaves are gone it is no longer there but I will see it and its mate sometimes on the nearby roof tops in the evening and early morning. Do they usually find another tree to live in winter ?

  55. Heartwarming article. Exactly what I needed to read. I am very melancholy tonight. I am watching a crackling fireplace on my screen and wanted to hear some owls. I was on my way to find an owl hooting site when Matthew’s article popped up. I love the hoot of the owl. Only once have I heard an owl where I live in metro Denver.

    Again this article has given me great comfort tonight – my dog of 16 years moved on this evening.

    Well off I go to find my hooting owls. Don’t you just love how technology has enabled us to have these experiences when we really need it? I do….

  56. Do owls eat chickens my chickens keep getting killed the nights I hear them hooting

  57. We had a mating pair of great horned owls in our Arizona Mobile park for a few years. Last year I believe something happened to one of them early in the season so there was no nesting activity. We were lucky enough to capture many previous pics from 2 years before and the pair successfully raised 3 young. The last 2 weeks an adult owl has been hooting at dusk and again at dawn. He or she perches in the same area as 2 years ago leading me to believe it’s one of the senior owls. Is it safe to say that this magnificent bird will not mate again. It still hoots away at the old nesting tree, but have only seen 1 and thinking it will soon leave the area again like it did last year. Thanks and enjoyed this site for a great read.

  58. Is it true that it is bad luck to see an owl in the daytime? I saw one today at 9:00 A.M. on our roof, not moving muscle. He was just staring at the ground. It was broad daylight. It was very strange.

  59. I live in the country now and have a wooded area behind my house. There was a pair of Great Horned owls calling to each other about 4:30 this morning. Very close. With all there is to worry about in the artificial world we have created for ourselves it was a reassuring sound of nature.

  60. Hi Matthew, my name is Victor Haynes and I live in Kitty Hawk, N.C. My home is near the Kitty Hawk Woods Preserve and only miles from The Nature Conservancy Nags Head Woods. Last night Great Horned owls were hooting it up near my home. It is always a thrill for me as well. This morning I set out to look for signs of them to no avail but having read your article I now know more of what to look for. Keep up the good work and congratulations. Regards, Victor

  61. I’ve been hearing hooting by my house and I put up i-ness for them hoping that they will come to it

  62. I live in Fairbanks, Ak. I have been enjoying hearing what I believe to be, great horned owls the last two weeks, early in the morning.

  63. Hello i live in Bellingham WA about 20 minutes from Canada.
    over the last few months i have been lucky to hear hooting coming from a few different tees on my block.
    at first i thought it was a large group of owls, but after some research i have learned that it is more likely a pair of great horned owls. calling back and fourth to each other.
    one has a deeper hoot than the other. they are usually very hooty around 4 am.
    the sound is deep and awesome. i can actually feel the hahhhoo hoot!
    its nice to know Im not the only night owl in my neighborhood.

  64. We had a Great horn nest in one of tall trees , We watched and took photo, w
    When her ends hatched, we herd chick sounds. One day we saw a chick corset out of nest and it could not get back, Mom was goon the chick fell trying to get back in nest. It was 65 ft drop and it did not live. Bent day. another chick was out of nest but it managed to get back.- Mom got a stray cat ot pet for food. It was big and it lade across the nest. Did not see chicks again but heard them. Then crow came and the atom mom keep leading them away from nest. This went on for two days. The a neibor started mowing and mom move away. She flew south and goon for hours. Next day the Ded cat and chicks were goon!
    Did she move ther ? To a place with less noise ? will the Great horn owl do this?

    Would have loved watching then grow,
    Dante and Patti, south OK / Texas border

  65. Lots of them here in AZ. A pair have been nesting for 22 years in the neighbors tree in their back yard. We see them every day. One year there was 3 babies. One baby this year. A couple of weeks ago, I found one of them in our pool drowned. I am so sad. My question, will the remaining bird find a new mate? It is still feeding the young bird. I have a beautiful picture of the pair.