Hatch Year: 2019
Arrival to WBS: 2019
Sex: Female
Reason for Residence: imprinted on humans

Freya was found laying in a yard as a chick in an area no other owls had previously been noticed. After two days of no parents appearing, she was collected and brought to World Bird Sanctuary’s rehabilitation hospital. Upon her arrival Freya IMMEDIATELY began food begging to every human she saw, and even actively climbed into one staff member’s lap before falling asleep. It was clear someone had been illegally raising Freya for some time, and that she was imprinted upon humans and thus would not be capable of survival on her own in the wild. It was also assumed that Freya was not being fed the proper diet by whomever was illegally raising her based on her health issues.

Once healthy, Freya was transferred to our education department and we began working with her to gain confidence as a glove bird and gain exposure to larger venues. Her training has been coming along wonderfully, and she has begun to participate in smaller education programs both on and off site! While her opportunity for a life in the wild may have been taken from her by persons unknown, her opportunities for helping educate the public about the dangers of imprinting and of Great Horned Owls as a whole is as bright as ever. Look for her in educational programs in the future!


Great Horned Owls are common and widespread throughout much of the Americas, however populations declined throughout their range by about 33{b72fa993cab2ff905a1f39ebf084228b79c40acc45be2f64cc4166a48c73e45e} between 1966 and 2015, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey.

Scientific Name: Bubo virginianus
Description: largest owl native to North America; adults have large ear tufts which are not actually ears, but large tufts of feathers; face is reddish, brown or gray with a white patch on the throat; iris is yellow; underparts are light with brown barring; upper parts are mottled brown; legs and feet are feathered up to the talons; owls have binocular vision and the ability to turn their heads a full 270 degrees; an owl’s hearing is as good as, if not better, than its vision; owls have stereo hearing which allows them to triangulate the location of prey
Sex: females larger than males
Age: up to 20 years in the wild after critical first year
Length: 18″-25″
Wingspan: 39.8″-57.1″
Weight: 32.1-88.2 oz.
Habitat: wide variety of wooded habitat; forests, swamps, deserts, rocky areas, farmland and urban areas from sea level to 12,000 feet
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: wide variety of small to medium mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish insects, and occasionally carrion if other food is scarce; one of the few animals known to prey on skunks

Vocalization: low pitched, loud, monotone “ho-ho-hoo hoo hoo;” females call is higher pitched

Fun Facts!
– 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.

– airs 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.”

– Great Horned Owls are one of the only known predators of skunks.

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