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Great horned owls: Do they give a hoot?

By Gary Bogue
Tuesday, September 20th, 2011 at 5:48 am in great horned owl.

Great horned owl giving a hoot from a treetop soap box. Photo by Marina Chainey, Richmond, CA
1great horned owl marina chainey, richmond

The owls have begun their Fall dawn hooting meetings in our yard.  This one and its friend were greeting each other just “late” enough to give sufficient light for a few pictures (6:35 a.m.) on September 7.  This morning I watched them from 5:45 until 6:15 a.m. Are these greetings signaling the beginning of courting season, or are they just preamble?

Enjoying nature’s alarm clock,
Marina Chainey, Richmond, California

In the last week or so, I’ve heard a few great horned owl hoots echoing across the canyon behind my house in Benicia, but not a lot.  It’s pretty early for great horned owls to start courting. That usually begins in October or November.

Male great horned owls go on occasional hooting binges throughout the year, so it’s sometimes hard to tell when the actual courting begins. My rule of thumb on this, when the males really start hooting up a storm, all night long, followed by lots of females hooting back at them, then it’s probably courting time. I don’t hear that happening yet. Anybody else out there in the San Francisco Bay Area hearing anything? /Gary

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4 Responses to “Great horned owls: Do they give a hoot?”

  1. Christina Says:

    What a great picture. Thanks, Ms. Chainey!

  2. Ria Tanz Kubota Says:

    At just past sunset I heard one set of hoo-hoo-hoos with no answer within 2 miles of Hilltop Mall. What a hoot!

  3. Helen Says:

    About two weeks ago I heard an owl, which sounded like in my backyard, in Albany right off the freeway. It was the hoot-ing that gave him/her away….a month earlier we had a Red tail Hawk eating a Blue Bird in our backyard, with two Turkey Vultures watching in our pine tree. The odd thing about it is that our backyard is very small!
    Great pic Marina!!!!!!!

  4. Kat Mulkey Says:

    I love the Great Horned Owls. These birds hoot around in my neighborhood a lot, but I got really close to a juvenile(?) one morning, then I drew it

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