Toby is a female Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus). She came
to the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital in 2006 from the greater Pullman area.
She was diagnosed with head trauma which was thought to be caused by getting hit
by a car. She doesn’t act like a normal Great Horned Owl should, which
would include aggression and defensiveness towards people. Some of her
reactions are delayed giving the impression of at least some brain damage.
However, most would agree that she is smarter than she appears to be. She
also cannot move one of her ear tufts giving her a lop-sided look.
Great-horned Owls are named for the feathers on the top of their heads which
resemble horns at a distance. They have large bodies with brown and black
feathering. Their facial disks are not as round as in other owl species
and are a tan or buff color. They are identifiable by their prominent
white bib on the upper chest, and their large, yellow eyes. Great-horned Owls
are one of the largest and most powerful owls in North America weighing up to 4
pounds. They can take prey up to 2 – 3 times their own weight.
Over 250 different birds and animals have been identified as prey, including
porcupines, skunks, snakes, owls and other birds, rodents, and fish.
Great-horned Owls have very powerful feet and can exert 400 pounds of pressure
per square inch! That’s 4 times the strength of the adult human jaw!
Great-horned Owls are the most widespread of our owls, occurring throughout
North America. They utilize a variety of habitats, and have adapted well
to living around humans. Males and females can be differentiated by their
calls during mating season; the males have a 3-note call while the female's call
contains 5 notes and is higher pitched.