This is Houdini, an injured resident Great Horned Owl at Hocking Hills State Park. He has a broken wing, and it is permanently damaged. Lots of you have probably seen him at park programs, especially at the Naturalist Cabin with Naturalist Pat Quackenbush. If you’re lucky and driving around at dusk and into the night, you might see a Great Horned Owl perching on a tree limb or fence post. They are about the size of a big tomcat, gray and white, and are distinguished by ear tufts on the tops of their heads. They spend most of the night hunting for mice and rats, small animals, and the occasional skunk. A lazy-nester, they don’t put a lot of effort into making a place for their young, preferring to use hawk or crow nests and topping them with little more than some feathers. If you see any young chicks on the ground (they try to fly at about five weeks), don’t try to take them. Even if they don’t provide the best nesting material, Great Horned Owls are wonderful parents. One or another of the parents will feed them where they took flight until they can fend for themselves.


Great Horned Owl

Common in Ohio, watch for the big size. They hunt in the evening and night.

What makes them unique? Look for the ear tufts (also called plumicorns) and large size.

The Screech Owl also has ear tufts, but this little owl is as tiny as a kitten.

Great Horned Owl in flight

After owls eat a mouse or other prey, it regurgitates the undigested parts--bones, claws, and skull.

 

 


 


This is Annie perched on Pat's hand, an injured resident Screech Owl at Hocking Hills State Park. She has only one eye, and cannot hunt on her own. She's one of the smallest owls found in Ohio and about the size of a kitten. But don't be fooled by her size. Coming out at night, you might see one of these ferocious little owls fly in front of the high beam lights of your car chasing a juicy insect flying past or even a rodent running across the road.

 

This is Paul. He’s a Red-tailed Hawk. You can see these birds flying overhead (look for the classic reddish-brown tail), and they are pretty common. Paul is blind in one eye and can’t be released because he can’t see well enough to catch his food. It is no secret, too, he’s a bit of a grump. He’s known to chase a few folks during feeding time around his pen, but in his defense, he is a wild bird. Red-tails aren’t exactly known for being social with humans—when you see them, they tend to be as far away as possible—perching high in trees or soaring above the treetops in the sky. They like mice, rats, squirrels, and even snakes. Oh, and in Paul’s case, the occasional park staff person kindly trying to feed him.