Thanks to the avid birder who pointed out this nesting pair of Great Horned Owls in a woods along the Bachhuber Loop at the Education and Visitor Center at the Horicon Marsh. The female is resting in the nest while the male is out getting food. She blends in beautifully with the pile of leaves that makes up her nest. From a distance, I didn’t see her.
The distinctive tufts or “horns” are not used for hearing. Their sensitive hearing is, in part, due to facial disc feathers that direct sound waves to their ears. It is possible that the tufts help to camouflage the owl by breaking up its shape and helping it to blend in with its perch. Others believe the tufts help with behavior signaling and species recognition. Owls also have interesting eyes that do not move in their sockets. They can turn their heads 180 degrees to see in all directions. Today, they just looked straight at me. We can look forward to seeing one to four fluffy owlets peeking their heads over the side of the nest soon.