Creature Feature Friday: The Great Horned Owl

Hey all!

Today I'm doing a native to my area (Chicago) species: the great horned owl, Bubo virginianus. 

I grew up surrounded by owl-related art and books because they are my dad's favorite animal. When Claire (my art student) and I were at the Trailside Natural History Museum in River Forest we were lucky enough to be able to see several owl species, but this guy was the most awake when we went.

Some cool facts: 

  1. Their patterning isn't just beautiful, it serves a purpose. The barred stripes and lighter belly with a darker back help prevent prey from seeing them among tree branches.
  2. Great horned owls roost earlier than almost all other raptors in their habitat range. Courtship will begin as early as October! So if you're looking to see owlets you can expect them earlier than other species in your area, though exact timing of egg-laying will depend on the particular area you're in (Nature Conservancy website).
  3. The eye disc feathers serve two purposes: to protect and cover the ear holes, but also channel sound into their ears (Golden Field Guide, 1983 ed., p. 174)

Here's the field drawing I did while we were at Trailside: 

And then for my birthday I decided to make some owl-related art (which you may have seen on my art blog on Wednesday!):


If you'd like to download a mobile/desktop a background of this, see this post for more info!

That's it for this week's Creature Feature Friday! What do you love about owls?