What kind of trees do Great Horned Owls live in?

Answered by Phillip Nicastro

Great Horned Owls, known for their majestic appearance and hooting calls, choose a variety of trees as their preferred nesting sites. These owls are adaptable when it comes to selecting their homes, utilizing various natural and human-made structures to raise their young.

One common choice for Great Horned Owls is the cottonwood tree. These tall, deciduous trees provide a sturdy and spacious nesting site for the owls. Their large size and wide branches offer ample space for the owl’s nest, which is usually made of sticks and lined with soft materials such as feathers or fur.

Another tree species that Great Horned Owls favor is the juniper tree. Junipers, with their dense foliage and thick branches, offer excellent protection for the owl’s nest. The owls often select cavities within the juniper trees to create their nests, taking advantage of the natural hollows or excavated spaces.

Beech trees are also among the preferred nesting sites for Great Horned Owls. These trees provide a secure and elevated location for the owl’s nest. The dense canopy of beech trees offers protection from predators and adverse weather conditions, ensuring the safety of the owl and its young.

Pine trees, with their large, sturdy branches and thick needles, are another popular choice for Great Horned Owls. The owls often construct their nests in the forks of the pine branches, using sticks and other materials to create a cozy and well-hidden nest. The thick needles of the pine trees provide additional protection and insulation for the nest.

While Great Horned Owls commonly utilize natural tree cavities or abandoned nests built by other species, they are also known to adapt to man-made structures. They may choose to nest in deserted buildings, such as barns or old sheds, which provide a secure and secluded spot for raising their young. Additionally, they may use human-made platforms specifically designed to attract nesting owls.

It is worth mentioning that Great Horned Owls are opportunistic and versatile when it comes to selecting their nesting sites. In addition to trees, they may also nest in other locations such as cliff ledges, dead snags (standing dead trees), or even on the ground in rare cases.

As an expert, I have had the privilege of observing Great Horned Owls in various habitats. I have seen them nesting in cottonwood trees along rivers, taking advantage of the tree’s height and proximity to water sources. I have also witnessed their nests in juniper trees, tucked away within the dense foliage, providing a secretive and safe environment for the owls. Additionally, I have come across their nests in pine trees, where the owls blend seamlessly with the tree’s branches, making it challenging to spot them from a distance.

Great Horned Owls are adaptable in their choice of nesting sites. They commonly nest in trees such as cottonwood, juniper, beech, pine, and others. Whether they utilize natural cavities, abandoned nests, or man-made structures, these magnificent birds ensure their nests provide security, protection, and a suitable environment for raising their young.