The great horned owl
), also known as the tiger owl
(originally derived from early naturalists' description as the "winged tiger" or "tiger of the air") or the hoot owl
is a large owl
native to the Americas
. It is an extremely adaptable bird with a vast range and is the most widely distributed true owl
in the Americas.
Its primary diet appears to be rabbits and hares
, rats and mice
, although it freely hunts any animal it can overtake, primarily other rodents
and small mammals, but also larger mid-sized mammals
, various birds
. In ornithological study, the great horned owl is often compared to the Eurasian eagle-owl
), a closely related species which, despite the latter's notably larger size, occupies the same ecological niche in Eurasia
, and the red-tailed hawk
), with which it often shares similar habitat, prey and nesting habits by day and is thus something of a diurnal ecological equivalent.
The great horned owl is one of the earliest nesting birds in North America
, often laying eggs weeks or even months before other raptorial birds.