The great horned owl is a large "tufted" ear owl, approximately 50 cm tall. It is a mottled grey-brown with distinct grey-brown barred appearance on the breast.

image of a great horned owl sitting on a tree stump


This owl generally resides in natural areas and is common throughout Alberta.

  • Occasionally out in daylight, but tends to be a silent nocturnal hunter.
  • Preys on a variety of birds, mice, skunks, hares and rabbits.
  • Nests in late winter.
  • May defend the nest area by swooping toward the intruder. Generally, they are easily scared away, but an umbrella may be used as a deterrent.


The great horned owl is our provincial bird and is protected by the Wildlife Act.

  • Keep a watchful eye on small pets if owls are in the area.
  • Covered kennels or exercise pens are recommended.
  • Domestic bird pens may be covered with synthetic netting, available at hardware and farm stores, greenhouse and nursery supply locations.


Further information about owls may be found at:

For additional expertise and knowledge, call the Strathcona Raptor Shelter at 780-922-3024.

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Last updated: Wednesday, January 25, 2023
Page ID: 50143