Great Horned Owl

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The great horned owl is strictly carnivorous and eats almost every living woodland animal above ground except the largest mammals.

The great horned owl kills weaker owls from the barred owl down, most of the hawks and such nocturnal animals as weasels and minks. Game birds of all kinds, (grouse, turkeys, rails, quails, pheasants) wading birds, (geese, phalaropes, woodcocks, wild ducks,) poultry, (domesticated ducks, chicken, guinea hens) a few small birds (woodpeckers), rabbits, (especially bush rabbits,) hares, squirrels, gophers, mice, rats, woodchucks, opossums, porcupines, skunks, snakes, fish, (dace, goldfish, bullheads, perch,) eels, crawfish, scorpions, frogs, and insects (crickets, beetles, grasshoppers, katydids,) are all eaten by this rapacious bird. It is particularly destructive to rats.

Ordinarily, when there is good hunting, this owl has a plentiful supply of food, and when there is game enough, it slaughters an abundance and eats only the brains; but in winter when house rats and mice keep mostly within the buildings, when woodchucks and skunks have “holed up,” and when field mice are protected by deep snow, then if rabbits are scarce and starvation is imminent, the owl will attack even the domestic cat, and usually with success.

Sources: (Bent, 1937; Forbush, 1929)
Image: Zweer de Bruin

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