© 2021 University of Missouri - KBIA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Arts and Culture

Discover Nature: Great Horned Owls Incubate Eggs

A great horned owl with brown and white feathers and yellow eyes sits in a tree cavity with a young owl chick.
A great horned owl perches in a tree cavity with a young chick sitting nearby. Great horned owls are in nests, incubating eggs this week in Missouri.

This week on Discover Nature, listen for great horned owls hooting in the night.

These large owls have wide-set ear tufts, mottled brown feathers, and yellow eyes. 

They mate from January through early February, and this week in Missouri, they are incubating eggs in their nests. 

An average clutch consists of just two eggs, with incubation lasting about a month before chicks hatch. 

Found in a wide variety of habitats across the state, from deep woods to urban areas, great horned owls have almost no sense of smell, and are among the few animals that will eat skunks. 

They also help control populations of mice, insects, crows, snakes, and rabbits, and have even been known to take prey as large as barred owls, and wild turkeys. 

Their steady removal of sick individuals of prey species lowers the chances for disease transmission among those populations. But these predatory birds can also be killed when they eat rodents who have consumed rat and mice poison. 

Learn more about great horned owls with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Related Content