Great horned owls are the most common owls in Minnesota and perhaps the most adaptable on the continent. Like all owls, they are excellent hunters, with silent flight, night vision, sensitive hearing, large talons and hooked beaks.

What They Eat

These owls hunt at night using their excellent hearing and vision to zero in on small mammals such as mice, voles, squirrels and rabbits. They will also eat other birds, reptiles, frogs and insects.

Where They Live

Great horned owls live in both open and wooded areas; in remote wilderness as well as rural areas and cities. They do not migrate. Subspecies of the great horned owl can be found throughout Canada, North America, Central America and large areas of South America, too.

What They Do

Great horned owls perch up high and quietly search for prey. They rely on their feathers for warmth, but also to keep them silent in flight while swooping down to catch prey with their sharp talons.

How They’re Doing

The future of great horned owls appears secure. They have adapted well to the presence of people and may be more common now than they were when Europeans first arrived in North America.

Where in the World

North America


Forest, Prairie, Desert, Rural, Urban

Conservation Status


Animal Facts

Wingspan: 3-5 feet
Weight: females up to 3.5 pounds, males just under 3 pounds

Taxonomic Category


Where at the Zoo

Minnesota Trail

  • In Central and South America, the great horned owl is the heaviest owl. In North America, only the snowy owl is heavier.
  • The great horned owl lacks horns, and though it appears to have ears, these are only tufts of feathers. The true ears are not visible beneath its feathers.
  • The eyes of a great horned owl are nearly as big as those of a human.
  • Great horned owls can fly up to 40 miles an hour.
  • Small prey is swallowed whole. The owl regurgitates indigestible fur and bones in a pellet.
  • Great horned owls often make their nests from those other animals have built.
  • A great horned owl can hear a mouse moving beneath a foot of snow.
  • Minnesota is rich with owl species: of the 20 that live in the United States, we have 12.

Grey-winged trumpeter populations are decreasing due to deforestation and hunting. Forests of the Amazon River basin are being cleared for roads, cattle ranching, and crop production. The trumpeter’s poor ability to fly also leaves them prime targets for hunters.  Trumpeters are likewise commonly caught and kept as pets due to their natural “guard dog” like behavior.

Sherman, P.T., Kirwan, G.M. & Sharpe, C.J. (2014). Grey-winged Trumpeter (Psophia crepitans). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.) (2014). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 27 July 2015).