CREDITS: I would like to thank Jeremy D'Entremont for providing much of the history one can find on this site. He is a speaker, author, historian, and tour guide who is widely recognized as the foremost authority on the lighthouses of New England. For a story on Jeremy or to visit his site (New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide), use the corresponding link in the right hand information bar under "Related Links".

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I have set up this site as a means to share my photographs of lighthouses. Since retiring and finding more time to study photography, my interests have expanded a little. For some of my work other than lighthouses please enjoy my Facebook page at, John Shaw Photography. Come visit, enjoy, and 'LIKE' if you wish.

Also, for your enjoyment, I have provided a slideshow of our journey. To view it please use the link on the right under 'Site Navigation Tools'.

I sincerely hope you enjoy my efforts and use my site not only for information and education but also to provide directions for many enjoyable, inspirational visits to the beacons along our beautiful coas.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Great Horned Owl

     The great horned owl is the second raptor (bird of prey) that we are visiting. In the archives one can find photos and information on the Bald Eagle, the largest of the raptors that we checked out some time ago. The male is smaller than the female and has a much lower-pitched call.  They have a body that ranges from 18 to 25 inches with a wing span of 3.3 to 4.8 feet and they weigh from 2'to 5.5 pounds.  Their average life span in the wild is anywhere from 5 to 15 years.
     The great horned owl is the most common owl of the Americas, easily recognizable because of the feather tufts on its head. These "plumicorns" resemble horns or, to some, catlike ears.
     They have horizontal breast barring with gray to brown, mottled bodies.  Their face has a dark outline with a lighter brown center and sometimes a white bib under the chin.  They have sharp, black talons and beaks.
     They have large, round gold eyes.  Like all owls, their large eyes cannot move.  To look up, down or to the side the owls must move their entire heads and are able to turn their necks 180 degrees.
     Great horned owls are adaptable birds and live from the Arctic to South America. They are at home in suburbia as well as in woods and farmlands. Northern populations migrate in winter, but most live permanently in more temperate climes.
     These birds nest in tree holes, stumps, caves, or in the abandoned nests of other large birds. Monogamous pairs have one to five eggs (two is typical), both the male and female incubate, and the male also hunts for food. Owls are powerful birds and fiercely protective parents. They have even been known to attack humans who wander too close to their young.

     Like other owls, these birds have an incredible digestive system. They sometimes swallow their prey whole and later regurgitate pellets composed of bone, fur, and the other unwanted parts of their meal. Owls are efficient nighttime hunters that strike from above, and use their powerful talons to kill and carry animals several times heavier than themselves. Owls prey on a huge variety of creatures, including raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, domestic birds, falcons, and other owls. They regularly eat skunks, and may be the only animal with such an appetite. Thismis because they have no sense of smell.  As a result their nests have been known to reek.  They sometimes hunt for smaller game by standing or walking along the ground. Owls have even been known to prey upon unlucky cats and dogs.
     Great horned owls are largely nocturnal so they can be difficult to spot. But in the dark after sunset, or just before dawn, they can often be heard vocalizing with their well known series of five syllable "Hoo Hoo, Hoo Hoo Hoo's".

1 comment:

  1. I just found your blog while looking for info online about Great Horned owls. I had one at my house last night. I live on the coast of Maine and am a photographer. So your lighthouse series is also of interest to me. Nice blog!