Striginae, Tribe Bubonini
Strix virginiana J.F. Gmelin, 1788, Virginia. Twelve races are tentatively identified.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
French: Grand-duc d’Amйrique; German: Virginiauhu; Spanish: Bъho Americano.
20–23.6 in (51–60 cm). Female, 2.2–5.5 lb (1,000–2,500 g). Male, 1.5–3.2 lb (680–1,450 g). A large, powerful owl with a rust-colored facial disc, large, erect ear tufts, yellow eyes, and a white chin and throat. Upperparts are grayish to gray-brown, mottled and barred. Underparts are brownish with a reddish tinge, also mottled. The fully feathered legs and feet are buff to tawny.
Alaska to Hudson Bay through the United States, Mexico, and Central America; in South American from Colombia to the Guianas, Bolivia to northeastern Brazil and south to east-central Argentina.
Every type of woodland, farmland, desert with scrub, mountainous areas, mangroves, and urban areas.
Mainly resident and territorial. Makes deep hooting calls to announce its presence. Hunts mostly at dusk or during the night, occasionally during the day.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Still hunts from a perch; makes shallow, gliding drops to its prey; very rapacious. Takes a huge variety of prey including birds as large geese, mammals (up to 90% of its diet), fish, snakes, insects, and even other owls.
Utilizes old nests of other large birds, or nests in hollows in trees and, sometimes, in caves or among tree roots. The breeding season varies from December to July because of this owl’s wide range. It tends to breed earlier than other owls in the same locality. Lays one to three eggs. Incubation is 28–30 days. Young remain in the nest for 35–45 days and are cared for by their parents for up to five months.
Not globally threatened. It is a very common owl throughout its range.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
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