Now may be a good time to see great horned owls (Bubo virginianus). They are year-round residents, but start sitting in their nests as early as January or February.
Great horned owls are large birds (adults can be 18-25 inches in length) and have large ear tufts on their head and large yellow eyes. Their feathers are usually a mix of colors: white, reddish-brown, gray, and black with a white patch on their throats.
Great horned owls can be found throughout New York state in a variety of habitats, such as forests or fields, near cliffs, and even around suburban or urban areas. They are most active at night, especially dusk and dawn, but sometimes hunt during the day. Listen for their distinctive “hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo” call.
Photo of Great Horned Owl by Susan L. Shafer.