The Great horned owl is one of fifteen species of owls found in Wyoming at various times of the year. Excellent nocturnal hunters, Great horned owls can be easily identified by their physical characteristics and distinctive calls.
The Great horned owl (Bubo virginianus) is the most common and widely distributed owl
species in North America. It is extremely adaptable and able to occupy a diverse range of habitats. The Great horned owl is generally camouflaged with horizontal barring on its underside and complex brown mottling markings on its upperside, both which help it blend in with the bark of many tree species in which they nest and roost. Great horned owls can also be found roosting near barns or in
abandoned buildings. Their characteristic horn-like tufts of feathers, which are neither horns nor ears, may add to their camouflage but are also thought to serve as visual cues during territorial and mating interactions. The Great horned owl is the largest owl in Wyoming, sitting almost 2 feet high, weighing from 2.5 to 5 pounds, with a wingspan of over 4 feet. The stereotypical ‘hoot’ is the most common territorial call, but other common sounds of a Great horned owl include shrieks, barks, cat-like meows, coos, and beak snapping.