A Communal Roost of the Great Horned Owl

by Bryce W. Robinson


I’d like to share this video of a solitary roosting Great Horned Owl to introduce a story and celebrate a career goal accomplished for both Caitlin Davis, and myself.

In December 2012, Caitlin and I were conducting Golden Eagle surveys in the west desert of Utah. One evening on our survey route near the border of Nevada and Great Basin National Park, we came upon a roosting pair of Great Horned Owls. These owls sat in a small string of trees about 30 m in length. Soon after we discovered the roosting pair, we noticed an additional four owls in the same tree line. A total of six owls sat together in close proximity, and soon after we counted the birds, I knew the significance of what we had found.

Because I knew that Great Horned Owls are extremely territorial, I looked into the literature hoping to find any reports of similar roosting behavior. After what seemed to be an exhaustive search, I had found no reports of any communal roosting behavior for the Great Horned Owl, or any other Bubo species.

I discussed the idea of reporting the findings with Steve Slater, Shawn Hawks, and Markus Mika at HawkWatch International. They were supportive of the idea, so with little hesitation I wrote a short report of the roost and submitted it for publication to the Journal of Raptor Research.

The report was accepted, and has now been published in the latest issue of the JRR. Caitlin and I are extremely grateful to everyone who helped us get the word out in the proper fashion by talking out ideas, and revising the manuscript. It was a fun process, and I look forward to repeating it again in the future.

Read the article here:

Robinson, B.W. and C. M.  Davis. 2014. A communal roosting of the Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus). Journal of Raptor Research 48(1) 88-89