12×18 pastel on felt matboard. Original available.
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Art Up Close; Pathway to the Soul; The Wonder of Wings;
The birds hunt at night by waiting on a high perch and swooping down on prey. Prey is quite variable, but is predominantly small to medium-sized mammals such as rats, squirrels, mice, moles, voles, marmots, skunks, shrews, bats, weasels, gerbils and even porcupines. Locally, hares and rabbits can comprise a great majority of subsistence for Great Horned Owls. Birds comprise the other large portion of Great Horned Owl prey, with birds ranging in size from kinglets to Great Blue Herons being taken. Locally, waterbirds, especially coots and ducks, can be important prey; raptors up to the size of Snowy Owls and Ospreys are sometimes taken. Reptiles, amphibians, fish, crustaceans and even insects are occasional prey. In northern regions, where larger prey that cannot be eaten quickly are most prevalent, they may let uneaten food freeze and then thaw it out later using their own body heat. They also tend to eat and regurgitate food in the same locations. Great Horned Owls are often said to be the most dangerous owl, and it is reportedly the only bird of prey that has been known to kill a human being, but it should be noted that these attacks are never predatory, and that the only known fatal attack was triggered by the victim, who was trying to steal eggs or chicks from the owl’s nest. Other species of owl will also attack to protect their young.
They have excellent hearing and exceptional vision in low light. Their hearing has better depth perception than human hearing (requires reference) and better perception of sound elevation (up-down direction). The latter is possible because owl ears are not placed in the same position on either side of their head: the right ear is typically set higher in the skull and at a slightly different angle. By tilting or turning its head until the sound is the same in each ear, an owl can pinpoint both the horizontal and vertical direction of a sound. The eyes of Great Horned Owls are also nearly as large as those of humans and are immobile within their sockets. Instead of turning their eyes, they turn their heads.
Their call is a low-pitched but loud “ho-ho-hoo hoo hoo.” Sometimes it is only four syllables instead of five. The female’s call is higher and rises in pitch at the end of the call. Young owls make hissing or screeching sounds that are often confused with the calls of Barn Owls.
The Great Horned Owl is the provincial bird of Alberta. Great Horned Owls can be easily confused with Bubo magellanicus, the Magellanic Horned Owl (which was for some time believed to belong in this species), and other eagle-owls. (info from Wikipedia)