CYPRESS – GREAT-HORNED OWL
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Hatch Year: 2003
Arrival to WBS: 2016
Reason for Residence: imprinted on humans
Cypress was found at around 4 weeks old by animal control, and was brought through a vets office to arrive at the Great Plains Zoo. While there it became apparent that she was not exhibiting normal hunting behaviors, or a real will to survive in non-controlled settings. Due to this, she was deemed non releasable. It was decided she would do education programs as a result. Cypress arrived at World Bird Sanctuary in 2016, and joined the zoo show team in Milwaukee.
After a year of flying in programs at a zoo show, she was brought up to a public exhibit where you can now find her with her roommate, Tiberius, year round. Cypress is easy to tell apart from Tiberius because of her lighter coloration. In her public exhibit, Cypress enjoys waiting on the perch closest to the door where she can get her food immediately from her trainers.
SPECIES: GREAT-HORNED OWL
CONSERVATION STATUS: LEAST CONCERN
Great Horned Owls are common and widespread throughout much of the Americas.
Scientific Name: Bubo virginianus
Description: These are large, thick-bodied owls with two prominent feathered tufts on the head. The wings are broad and rounded. In flight, the rounded head and short bill combine to create a blunt-headed silhouette. Great Horned Owls are mottled gray-brown, with reddish brown faces and a neat white patch on the throat. Their overall color tone varies regionally from sooty to pale.
Sex: females larger than males
Age: 5-20 years in the wild once past the critical first year
Weight: 32.1-88.2 oz
Habitat: woods, particularly young woods interspersed with fields or other open areas. The broad range of habitats they use includes deciduous and evergreen forests, swamps, desert, tundra edges, and tropical rainforest, as well as cities, orchards, suburbs, and parks.
Range: throughout most of North and South America
Behavior: hunts at dusk and during the night from a perch, while flying low over the ground, walking on the ground, or wading into water; among the earliest-breeding birds in North America; territories are claimed in the fall, and breeding takes place in January or early February; nesting is done in other birds’ stick nests, natural tree hollows, man-made platforms, or on cliff ledges or cave entrances; female lays 1-3 eggs and incubates for 26-35 days; young birds start to wander away from the nest in 6-7 weeks at which point they are called “branchers”; they are fully flighted at 10-12 weeks; fledglings are tended by the parents for up to 5 months; maturity is reached at 2 years
Diet: Great Horned Owls have the most diverse diet of all North American raptors. Their prey range in size from tiny rodents and scorpions to hares, skunks, geese, and raptors. They eat mostly mammals and birds—especially rabbits, hares, mice, and American Coots, but also many other species including voles, moles, shrews, rats, gophers, chipmunks, squirrels, woodchucks, marmots, prairie dogs, bats, skunks, house cats, porcupines, ducks, loons, mergansers, grebes, rails, owls, hawks, crows, ravens, doves, and starlings. They supplement their diet with reptiles, insects, fish, invertebrates, and sometimes carrion.
Vocalization: low pitched, loud, monotone “ho-ho-hoo hoo hoo;” females call is higher pitched.
– Named for the tufts of feathers on its head that look like ears, but the ears are really further down on the side of its head
– Largest owl native to North America
– Pairs often call together, with audible differences in pitch
– Their eyes don’t move in their sockets, but they can swivel their heads more than 180 degrees to look in any direction
– Sometimes known by the nickname “tiger owl”