Thursday, March 29, 2012

Great Horned Hoot

Marolyn and I were leaving Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge after an afternoon of photography and a beautiful sunset when we noticed the silhouette of a Great Horned Owl in the top of a tree about 75 yards away, just outside the refuge boundaries.  It was quite dark now but I thought I would attempt a photograph anyway.  To our surprise the owl hooted.  Just for kicks I made an attempt to hoot back.  Again to our surprise, the owl answered me.  We went back and forth for a few hoots when the owl stared right at me and flew right toward our vehicle.   He flew right over our car and landed in the woods behind us.  I hooted again and he hooted back and flew closer.  He didn't seem to be happy with another "owl" in his territory.


This was the first time we had actually seen a Great Horned Owl hoot, although we had heard them on many evenings.  Marolyn and I realized we had never seen a photo of a Great Horned Owl hooting.  

The owl would lean forward, raise its tail, expand its throat, and hoot.  We were amazed at how soft the sound is even though it carries so well in the quiet woods.  The white feathers on its neck are barely visible until it hoots.  I assume it's a display to either attract females or warn other males.

Notice how dilated the owl's eyes are - an indication of just how dark it was. 

This whole experience lasted less than 10 minutes.  As always, our objective is to observe, not disturb, so we drove away suspecting the owl was convinced he had successfully defended his turf.

As much time as Marolyn and I spend in the wild, there are alway new sights and animal behavior to see and experience.

Post by Marolyn & Skeeter Lasuzzo
Photos by Skeeter Lasuzzo

For more photos of wildlife, information about Hagerman NWR and activities there, see


  1. Beautiful shots! The second one looks like a painting! Thanks for sharing..

  2. Wow ... very nice pics ... especially the second one.

    Was this at the Refuge Road entry area ?


    1. These images were taken on road east of the Tree of Lebanon.

  3. Just reminds me how much I miss if I don't take to be quiet and observe. What a lovely experience!