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The Great Horned Owl in Tucson, AZ

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Golden Girls with SW Desert Homes BR564219000
We have an interesting new neighbor that is livening up our evenings and posing for photos.  I wanted to learn a bit more about him so I did a little digging...
 
I believe he's a great horned owl, as he's got the peaked ears and is at least 18 inches tall.

 

What they look like:

  • Size: Great horned owls are large birds, with a wingspan that can reach up to 5 feet. They typically weigh under 4 pounds but they sure look heavier!
  • Plumage: They have a mottled brown and grey body with distinctive ear tufts (which aren’t actually ears) that resemble horns, hence their name.
  • Eyes: Their large, yellow eyes are quite striking and provide excellent night vision, essential for their nocturnal lifestyle.  I love how their neck sort of spins around as their attention is caught.

Habitat

  • Range: These owls are incredibly adaptable and are found throughout North and South America. In Tucson, they thrive in the desert landscape, urban areas, and even the mountainous regions.  "Our's" hides in a very bushy Palo Verde tree, where he must spend his days.
  •  

  • (this one was provided by my birding client who sends me full use photos weekly!!)

Behavior and Diet

  • Nocturnal Hunters: They are primarily active at night, using their exceptional hearing and vision to hunt.
  • Diet: They have a diverse diet that includes rodents, rabbits, birds, and even other owls. 
  • Calls: Their call is a deep, resonant hoot, often described as “hoo-hoo-hoo hoo hoo.” It’s a familiar sound in the Tucson nights. 

Viewing Tips

  • Best Times: The best time to spot a great horned owl is during dawn or dusk when they are most active.
  • Locations: Look for them in areas with tall trees or open spaces where they can hunt. Tucson's parks and natural areas, such as Saguaro National Park, are great places to observe them.
  • Listening: Sometimes you might hear them before you see them. Their distinctive hooting can guide you to their location.

  • (this one was provided by my birding client who sends me full use photos weekly!!  He told me this was a "nestling"  So cute!!!!)

Great horned owls are truly remarkable birds that add a touch of wilderness to the Tucson area. Whether you hear their haunting hoots at night or catch a glimpse of one perched majestically on a saguaro, they’re a wonderful reminder of the natural beauty that surrounds us.

I'm glad we have a new neighbor, even if he's a "night owl"!

Last summer, we had a little visitor staying in our new construction reno. They thought it was a pygmy owl. (He looks like a baby Great horned to me!) Then he got into our house!!

Fortunately, we were able to contact a professional who gently caught him and took him out to the preserve that backs up to our property.  

Now you can see my interest in owls!

Posted by

 

If I can assist you in your home buying or selling in Marana, Tucson, Oro Valley, or Vail, please don't hesitate to call me!  Email at Cara@SWDeserthomes.com

Cara Marcelle Mancuso, Designated Broker, Golden Girls with SW Desert Homes     520-909-2988   

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Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Pasadena And Southern California 818.516.4393

Hello Cara - thank you for the introduction and your client for the photography.  Nature is fascinating and each geographic area has a unique character that highlights the specialness of each location.   🦉

May 23, 2024 11:57 AM
Cara Marcelle Mancuso

So true, I rarely see a red-breasted robin which were EVERYWHERE when I was growing up in Western Washington.  Happy Memorial Weekend Michael Jacobs 

May 24, 2024 09:29 AM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

They are impressive. We saw a pair at the botanical gardens in the Phoenix area when we were out there.

May 23, 2024 12:05 PM
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Realty ONE Group Advocates 484-237-2055 - Downingtown, PA
Selling the Main Line & Chester County

We have a very noisy owl behind our house, I have not been able to see him, even when he is hooting. It was fun at first now he has become a chatterbox, hooting all night long. He has a lot to say. Still i would love to catch a photo of him or at least see him or her not just listen to them.

May 23, 2024 12:10 PM
Cara Marcelle Mancuso

I was lucky to find ours hiding in the palo verde.  It was funny when he spotted that I knew where he was...he sort of did this sideways shuffle Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543 

May 24, 2024 09:30 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

That would be very cool to see and watch.   When I was in AZ over Christmas, there was an owl in a tree behind the house.  Was pretty noisy at 7 am.

May 23, 2024 12:47 PM
Cara Marcelle Mancuso

Careful Joan Cox you might end up moving here!!!  I came for Thanksgiving one year and Christmas the next and left with the want ads.  Moved here 6 months later.  Loved those temperate holidays!  Speaking of, enjoy Memorial Day weekend Joan Cox 

May 24, 2024 09:31 AM
Joan Cox

Cara Marcelle Mancuso I know it is TOO HOT in the summer months for me.   The months of November thru February would be good though.

May 24, 2024 10:34 AM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Cara Marcelle Mancuso  loved the photos, how regal, truly amazing so glad you shared with us, Endre

May 23, 2024 10:25 PM
Cara Marcelle Mancuso

Thank you Endre Barath, Jr.   I am fortunate to have a birder as a friend and client.  He keeps me well supplied and informed about the local birds.

May 24, 2024 09:32 AM
Brian England
Ambrose Realty Management LLC - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

That is a really cool scene!  I was in the Old Pueblo yesterday but I didn't see any owls, haha.

May 24, 2024 04:53 AM
Cara Marcelle Mancuso

Gotta come out at dusk, Brian England !!  You likely saw a LOT of doves during the day!  Out by us, our most frequent visitor are the quail.

May 24, 2024 09:33 AM
Mike McCann Nebraska Land Broker
Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farm & Commercial Land Broker-Auctioneer Serving Nebraska - Kearney, NE
Farm & Commercial Property For Sale 308-627-3700

We do not have many owls in town but a lot out in the country.  Love the great horned owls.  A lot of hawks around here and I think that does hurt the owl population.

May 28, 2024 12:53 PM
Cara Marcelle Mancuso

Hi Mike McCann Nebraska Land Broker   In talking with a birder, I recently learned "my" owl is a she.  The large patch of white on her breast is actually molting feathers to help keep her nestlings warm.  Pretty cool.  We have a lot of coopers hawks here, but this owl is so much larger!

Jun 10, 2024 09:23 AM