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Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Owl

I figured out what kind of owl was living behind our house by comparing its hoots to online recordings. I'm pretty sure we've got one of these:

A Great Horned Owl (Bubo Virginianus), indigenous to the whole of North America. According to the Reader's Digest Book of Birds, this guy is basically a monster.

"Once described as 'the tiger of the woods'...it is equipped with powerful talons and a sharp hooked beak for tearing flesh from its kill. And thus arrayed, it seems to know no fear. Squirrels, Rabbits, skunks, songbirds, geese, hawks, even porcupines are all fair game for satisfying the horned owls enormous appetite...The ground beneath the roost is characteristically littered with bones, feathers, and other leftovers from the feast."

The emphasis on porcupines was my own. I find that unbelievable and ridiculous! That's a 12-35lb animal coated in razor sharp quills. Amazing.

The book goes on to mention that very occasionally, these guys swoop down on ladies in fur hats because the mistake the pelt for living prey. I hope I don't get swooped!


  1. Awesome research! GHOs are the pretty radical. Another good one that you might hear is the Barred Owl, "who cooks for whoooo...who cooks for hoo hooooo!"!!!

    But really, I have heard of burds of prey attacking fur headgears. My boss in Wyoming described an incident that happened to him last winter. He was out doing some sort of field work wearing a rabbit fur hat and suddenly in the silence of the snowy landscape he heard a whoosh behind him, turning just in time to see a Golden Eagle bearing down on him, talons outstretched. Seeing that he was not rabbit, but a man, the eagle quickly broke away from its death-swoop. Imagine how debilitating an eagle-swoop to the face would be!

  2. Yikes! I found a good video of swoopage on youtube, but the GHO was going after a doggie. So I felt too sad about it to post it. I really did demonstrate how lightening fast and quiet they are though...