The function of the great horned owls feathered ear tufts is unknown.
The great horned owl’s tufts are not the owl’s ears, but rather clumps of feathers found on the heads of some owls and not on others.
There are several suggestions as to the purpose of the great horned owl’s tufts. Theories include for camouflage, which makes the owl look like a branch on a tree from a distance; to help owls to distinguish each other from other species in low-light conditions; to make owls look fiercer to predators or nest intruders; and to help owls to communicate.
If an owl is alert and watchful, its ear tufts will go up, but if it’s scared or angry, its ear tufts will go down.