The largest of Ohio’s eight owl species, Great Horned Owls get a surprising head start on bringing up their babies. They’re nesting now! No worries about frozen eggs though—the female’s remarkable insulating down keeps eggs at 98 degrees F, even in subzero temperatures. They can get right down to egg-laying because instead of building their own nest, they use the nests of hawks, crows, or Great Blue Herons. They also use broken-off tree snags or tree cavities—another reminder of how important it is to preserve these habitat features in our neighborhoods, parks, and forests.
Those super-heated down feathers aren’t just for keeping their eggs and hatchlings toasty. In winter, Great Horned Owls sometimes catch and store uneaten prey, coming back later to thaw out the frozen carcass by “incubating” it. Wise owls indeed!