Skip to main content

Great Horned Owl

Bubo virginianus

Did you know?

  • Great horned owls are a part of the Strigidae family, which they share with many other owls.
  • They have two tufts of hair atop their heads, which look like horns.
  • They live in a variety of habitats throughout North and South America.
  • They can see in almost total darkness.
  • A female often will lay two to three eggs per clutch.


Great horned owls have strong feet and sharp claws for grasping prey, as well as a curved beak to tear their meal into bite-size chunks. They are equipped with sharp senses that help them find food in the dark. Their large eyes give them four times the night vision of people, and their hearing is exceptional, which comes in handy when preying on rodents and other small animals.

Young and Family

Great horned owls will nest in a variety of different spaces, often within tree cavities left over from other animals. Sometimes, they reuse nests from previous seasons. A female will lay two to three eggs per clutch. Both males and females help with incubation, taking turns sitting on the eggs, and are highly protective of their eggs and chicks.

Threat Level

  • Unknown
  • Common
  • Near Threatened
  • Threatened
  • Endangered
  • Critically Endangered
  • Extinct in the Wild


The Great Horned Owl is widespread and abundant.


North, Central and South America


Forests, woodlands, swamps, deserts, farmlands, towns

We care about great horned owls

The Saint Louis Zoo supports great horned owls in the Bird House at the Zoo. Learn more about how we are helping wildlife around the world: Dedicated to Conservation

Find this animal in Historic Hill


Historic Hill

Historic Hill is a lovely stroll through one of the oldest parts of the Saint Louis Zoo. From the 1904 World’s Fair Flight Cage to the Spanish architectural flavor of the 1920s in the Bird House, Primate House and Herpetarium to the finishing touches of our thoroughly modern exhibits, this area of the Zoo has a unique ambiance and a nostalgic history that make it a great destination.

Explore Historic Hill