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Great Horned Owl "Archie"

Great Horned Owl Bubo virginianus (GHOW)

ORDER: Strigiformes

FAMILY: Strigidae


Archie is a mature Great Horned Owl. He arrived at Cape Fear Raptor Center in 2014 as a baby. He was found on Gordon Road in Wilmington and had still not opened his eyes. Great Horned Owls don’t make nests, but use old nests or take over other nests. This makes them precarious and not as structurally sound as say a hawk’s nest. Archie more than likely fell out of his nest due to this or high winds. Owlets tend to fall out of their nest as the wind breaks it apart. When Archie finally opened his eyes, he starting exhibiting signs of imprinting, making him non-releasable. Imprinting happens at a young age in birds and is irreversible. When animals are fed and cared for by their parents and siblings that is how they recognize what they are. When they imprint on humans, they lose fear of us which can be dangerous to them and humans. They will not know how to interact with their own species. Other issues caused by imprinting are: not learning to survive by hunting, not knowing to be wary of predators, finding appropriate areas to live etc.


With its long, earlike tufts, intimidating yellow-eyed stare, and deep hooting voice, the Great Horned Owl is the quintessential owl of storybooks. These are large, thick-bodied owls with two prominent feathered tufts on the head. The wings are broad and rounded. In flight, the rounded head and short bill combine to create a blunt-headed silhouette. This powerful predator can take down birds and mammals even larger than itself, but it also dines on daintier fare such as tiny scorpions, mice, and frogs. It’s one of the most common owls in North America, equally at home in deserts, wetlands, forests, grasslands, backyards, cities, and almost any other semi-open habitat between the Arctic and the tropics.

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