Great Horned Owl – Tiger of the Sky

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Great Horned Owl - Tiger of the Sky Great Horned Owl –  Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Great Horned Owls are called many names, a few of them are Hoot Owl, Tiger Owl, Cat Owl and Winged Tiger. My favorite name for Great Horned Owls is “The Tiger of the Sky” and it is very descriptive of this large, fierce owl.  While the Great Gray Owl is North America’s largest owl, the Great Horned Owl may well be the fiercest owl. Great Horned Owls are apex predators, meaning that as adults they are not preyed upon. I know I don’t want to have those large talons take a chunk out of me.

I spotted this Great Horned Owl yesterday on Antelope Island State Park and it was an unexpected delight. I only had a few minutes with the owl because another car came along and I suspect that two vehicles made it uncomfortable enough to fly away.

Some photographers may not have taken the image because the owl was perched in a Tamarisk, an invasive shrub also known as Salt Cedar but I figure the owl didn’t care if it was invasive or not so I shouldn’t either. Besides; the autumn colors of the Tamarisk complimented the owl’s coloration very nicely.

It was the second time this week that I have found a Great Horned Owl in unexpected locations, I’ll be keeping a look out for them again in the future.



  1. Sally Wood April 11, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    Wow! An exceptional image! Very, very nice, Mia!

  2. Jerry Redmond December 6, 2011 at 1:51 am

    Great photo of an awesome species. I was thrilled to see an owl this afternoon while taking my dog on our daily walk through a wooded area on Long Island. It flew silently from tree to tree and appeared to have a 3-foot wing span. It was gray in color and had ear tufts. I don’t think it was a Great Horned because it appeared too small but I was still happy to see it. I’ve only seen wild Great Horned Owls twice in my life; once in Nevada and once in Oklahoma. Both sightings were at night with artificial light for illumination. Owls are among the most impressively adapted creatures on the planet; mysterious and slightly spooky. There is something eerie about their ability to fly in complete silence, due to an adaptation of their feathers that muffles sound, as if the laws of physics regarding sound waves has been suspended. They are very impressive creatures.

    • Mia McPherson December 6, 2011 at 6:19 am


      Thanks for visiting my blog and for your very kind comment. The owl you saw may have been an Eastern Screech Owl, they are smaller than the Great Horned Owl and they have ear tufts. I agree with you about owls being impressively adapted, they are wonderous creatures!

  3. Carolyn Balaam (UK) November 30, 2011 at 4:14 am

    Great shot. A friend put link on FB and I followed from there. Will certainly look at more of your photos.

    • Mia McPherson December 1, 2011 at 6:41 am

      Carolyn, thanks so much for stopping by and for your comment.

  4. Denis November 26, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Awsome shot, during day time

    • Mia McPherson November 26, 2011 at 3:07 pm

      I saw this same owl again today Denis, but this time it was hidden in the foliage and I didn’t take any shots.

  5. Chuck Gangas November 16, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Mia- a shooting buddy and I recently found two of these owls perched very high in a large oak tree. We waited for a few hours in hopes that the owls would descend to a lower perch so we could get a decent shot. When they did come lower they wanted nothing to do with us and kept moving further into the forest. Nice to actually see a decent, make that an exceptional image of these beautiful birds.

    • Mia McPherson November 17, 2011 at 6:10 am

      Thanks so much Chuck. I don’t get to see Horned Owls often here in Utah so I jump on every chance I can to photograph them. I spotted the owl from some distance away and was tickled when it allowed us to get close enough to get some images of it.

  6. Debbie Miller @HooootOwl November 15, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    Beautiful Great Horned Image!

    • Mia McPherson November 16, 2011 at 6:43 am

      Thanks Debbie, it really was a beautiful owl!

  7. Larry Jordan November 15, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    A totally awesome shot of my favorite (non-burrowing) owl 😉 The Great Horned Owl is such a superior raptor in so many ways. Whenever I see one of these beauties; heck, whenever I even hear one of these birds calling, I have to stop and just take in the experience. I love them!

    • Mia McPherson November 16, 2011 at 7:20 am

      I love Great Horned Owls too Larry, they are so interesting and beautiful. I adore hearing them call.

  8. Nicole MacP November 12, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    GORGEOUS pic!

    • Mia McPherson November 13, 2011 at 7:38 am

      Thanks Nicole! I’ve been missing your artwork, any new drawings being done?

  9. Bob Zeller November 12, 2011 at 10:52 am

    The Great Horned is probably the most predominant owl here in my area of West Texas. Your shot is excellent, Mia. Great closeup, and you gotta love those eyes. 🙂

    You have reminded me, I just recently started to upload my images to my Flickr page. I have many pics to go, and the Horned Owl is one of them. Stay tuned…….

    • Mia McPherson November 12, 2011 at 11:13 am

      Thanks very much for your kind words about my Great Horned Owl image Bob. They are beautiful subjects.

      I look forward to seeing your Great Horned Owl images on Flickr. I am always so far behind on editing. It seems the harder I try the behinder I get!

  10. Julie Brown November 12, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Awesome shot, Mia. Great pose, and the light on the needles and the owl’s eyes is perfect. I have yet to see an owl in the wild, but I know it would be a thrill. Antelope Island is such a cool place. I wish I had planned my trip to spend more time there. If I lived in SLC, I would probably go there every weekend!

    • Mia McPherson November 12, 2011 at 8:41 am

      Julie, if you lived here you would probably do what I do, get out to the island as often as possible! Maybe you’ll visit again and be able to spend more time there.

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