At times the male great horned owl appears to hoot for the mere pleasure of hearing his own voice.
The notes produced by great horned owls are an indescribable assemblage of hoots, chuckles, screeches, and squawks given so rapidly and disconnectedly that the effect is both startling and amusing.
Judging from its effect upon other owls of the species and the circumstances under which it is given, hooting of the male has a three-fold function. As with the songs of birds in general, hooting seems to be an expression of physical vigor and vitality. Such “language” is often heard when several birds gather together during the mating season and indulge in vocal battles. On rare occasions similar outbursts are heard at other seasons of the year.
• Image | © Andrea Westmoreland, Some Rights Reserved
• Sources | (Baumgartner 1983; Forbush, 1929)