Great Horned Owl

Bubo virginianus

The Great Horned Owl ranges over nearly the entire North American continent and is thought to be resident throughout its range. There are also populations in several regions of South America.

These birds of prey are capable of bringing down large prey, even other raptors. They will kill and eat skunks, and researchers have noted difficulty inspecting their nests because of the smell of skunk carcases.

Some authorities claim as many as 20 subspecies of Great Horned Owl, but other scholars believe that there are as few as 10. Presently recognised are 15 subspecies placed into two groups. The so called Magellanic group has but one member, B. v. magellanicus which live from central Peru to the southern tip of South America.

The group called the Northern Group has 14 members, and often have overlapping ranges. B. v. saturatus is resident from southern Alaska to northern California on the Pacific coast. B. v. pacificus lives west of the Sierra Nevada Range, south to Baja California (Mexico). B. v. elachistus lives in southern Baja California. B. v. lagophonus breeds from Alaska through the Canadian and US Rocky Mountains, and some migrate south in winter. B. v. subarcticus breeds in northwest Canada and east to Hudson Bay. B. v. pinorum breeds in the Great Basin and Rocky Mountains, and as far south as Texas in the Guadalupe Mountains. B. v. pallescens ranges from California, to Kansas, and south to Mexico. B. v. heterocnemis lives in eastern Canada. B. v. virginianus lives from Minnesota to Nova Scotia in the north, to Kansas, east Texas and Florida in the south. B. v. mayensis is resident on the Yucatan Peninsula (Mexico). B. v. mesembrinus lives in Central America. B. v. nigrescens lives in the Andes Mountains of Colombia and Peru. B. v. nacurutu lives in northern South America. B. v. deserti lives in Brazil.

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