www.whyville.net Jun 30, 2013 Weekly Issue

Whyville Artist

Hiss, Hiss!

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"BOO!" Did I scare you? No? Well, drats! However, I am sure you would almost have a heart attack if you stumbled across one of these in the wild! How can you ignore that humongous yellow eye and the ear tufts that make it seem as if they have horns? Actually, that's where their name, Great Horned Owl, comes from!

This owl is the second heaviest in North America and definitely one of the most striking in appearance. Each and every Great Horned Owl has a different color pattern and the degree of vibrant color also varies. What is creepy, though, is that Great Horned Owls can rotate their head a whole 270 degrees! Want to know a really gross fact? I'm sure you do!

Did you know that these owls are the only animals that eat skunks? How can they stand that smell?! The Great Horned Owl, however, doesn't have as long as a lifespan as you would imagine. In the wild, they would be lucky to live up to 13 years, but in captivity, they could live to be as old as 35 years old! That is quite the difference.

This owl's name is Boudica and is another animal who was being rehabilitated at the wildlife rehabilitation center I mentioned in my previous article (Article ID=13800). Boudica will never be released back into the wild because one of her legs will not heal properly and she would not be able to fend for herself in the wild if released. She will live out her owl-y life here at the center and is currently an educational bird. That's right; Boudica gets to travel all across her home state!

Just like in this particular photograph, I was at one of the center's open houses and Boudica was the highlight of the day. I wanted to snap a quick photograph of her as she was "hissing" at people walking by. Don't worry, she was attached to a leash!

Author's Note: Source: Birds of Michigan Field Guide, Second Edition by Stan Tekiela


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