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Great Horned Owl nest cam near Savannah, Georgia

The Savannah Great Horned Owl cam is located about 80 feet above one of six Audubon International Certified golf courses at The Landings, on Skidaway Island, near Savannah, Georgia. The nest cam is brought to the public by Skidaway Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

A pair of Great Horned Owls began using the nest in the fall of 2014 after a pair of Bald Eagles abandoned it. The owls successfully fledged four owlets in 2015 and 2016 but did not return in 2017. Osprey then utilized the nest each year until January 2022, when a pair of owls were spotted again. They laid an egg on January 17.

Organizers moved the nest location to an adjacent tree in the fall of 2019 after the original tree died and was removed from the area.

Where do Great Horned Owls live?

Great Horned Owls live in many different habitats across North and South America, and the species is the most common in the Americas. Sightings occur as far north as central Alaska and northern Canada and as far south as the southern tip of Argentina.

In North America, Great Horned Owls usually live in secondary-growth woodlands, swamps, and orchards. They are found in deciduous, coniferous, or mixed forests as well.

During the breeding season, the owls avoid the tundra and unbroken grasslands in favor of areas with trees and cover. In the desert, they’ll use cliffs or juniper for nesting.

How do I attract Great Horned Owls to my yard?

You can attract Great Horned Owls to your yard by adding a nest box for a breeding pair to use.

Nest boxes for Great Horned Owls should be placed 15-45 feet up in trees at least 12 inches wide, and with a minimum spacing of 1.5 miles, NestWatch says. Add nest boxes in the fall when male owls start claiming territory and pairs begin hooting to each other. The nesting season for the owls starts in late winter.

The owls will often take up residence in a nest left by other large birds such as eagles and hawks or, as in the case of the Savannah Great Horned Owls, Osprey. Great Horned Owls add little or no materials to their nest.

Thanks to setting up a trail camera, Contributing Editor Laura Erickson found a Great Horned Owl using a tray feeder as a hunting perch.

Visit NestWatch’s website to learn more tips and download nest box construction plans for Great Horned Owls and other backyard birds.

How do you identify Great Horned Owls?

Identify Great Horned Owls by the two feathered tufts on their head and broad and rounded wings. These thick-bodied birds can measure up to 2 feet in length, weigh about 5.5 pounds, and have a wingspan of nearly 5 feet.

For the most part, Great Horned Owls are grayish brown with reddish-brown faces and a white patch on their throat. The birds do differ in color across different regions; the ones from the Pacific Northwest are dark sooty, while they are paler and grayer in the Southwest. In the subarctic parts of Canada, they’re almost white.  

Juvenile owls have fluffy down.

What do Great Horned Owls eat?

Great Horned Owls mostly eat mammals and birds, such as rats, mice, squirrels, ducks, hawks, and smaller owls. They will also occasionally eat reptiles, fish, and carrion to supplement their diet.

In winter, Great Horned Owls may store uneaten prey, returning to the frozen carcass later and sitting on it to thaw it out.

What time of day do Great Horned Owls hunt?

Great Horned Owls usually hunt at night, using their good hearing and good vision in low light to find prey. If food supplies are low, they may begin earlier in the evening and continue later into the morning.

The owls spot their prey from a perch and usually pursue it on the wing before capturing it. They may also walk on the ground in pursuit of animals around bushes or other obstacles, All About Birds says.

Are Great Horned Owls friendly?

Great Horned Owls are not friendly to other animals as they are fierce hunters and staunch defenders of their nests and territory.

It takes 28 pounds of force to open a Great Horned Owl’s clenched talons, and the birds use this deadly grip to sever the spine of their prey. The owls earned nicknames like “tiger owl” due to their aggressive hunting habits.

Great Horned Owls will use bill-clapping, hissing, screaming, and screeching to scare predators away. If those strategies don’t work, they’ll spread their wings and strike with their talons.

Ravens, foxes, lynx, crows, raptors, and other animals will try to prey on eggs and nestlings, which bring on the defensive actions from the parent owls.

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