Great Horned Owl


These owls are covered in extremely soft feathers that insulate them against the cold winter weather and help them fly very quietly in pursuit of prey. Their short, wide wings allow them to maneuver among the trees of the forest. They have sensitive hearing, thanks in part to facial disc feathers that direct sound waves to their ears. Great Horned Owls have large eyes, pupils that open widely in the dark, and retinas containing many rod cells for excellent night vision. Their eyes don’t move in their sockets, but they can swivel their heads more than 180 degrees to look in any direction.

Click HERE for a Great Horned Owl Activity Sheet!

Our Current Resident

Gabel, estimated hatch year - 2006

Gabel the Great Horned Owl was donated to ZooMontana on July 31, 2008 by Moore Lane Veterinary Clinic. They had to amputate his right wing after he had been struck by a vehicle. Gabel actually received his name from the accident as he was found at a construction site on Gabel Road and 32nd Street. Sometime later, Gabel developed a luxated lens - or slipped lens - which affects the ability to focus light and produce an image. This resulted in requiring an operation to remove his right eye to improve his quality of life. The veterinarians actually mentioned that we shouldn’t be alarmed with his change of weight because his eye weighed 13 grams, or 1.5% of his body weight! But it didn’t stop there for Gabel’s health problems. Within the same week, Gabel was infected with West Nile Virus. Gabel was nursed back to health both at the veterinarian's personal home as well as the Zoo and he had a successful recovery.

When not on exhibit, Gable is often greeting folks of all ages at one of the many education programs he attends.


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Strigiformes
  • Family: Strigidae
  • Genus: Bubo
  • Species: Bubo virginianus

Animal Facts

  • Carnivore: eats meat such as rodents
  • Population: stable
  • Habitat: Forest
  • Nocturnal: active during the night

Our Animals