How To Attract Great Horned Owls To Your Backyard

Last Updated on September 6, 2021 by Guillermina

If you’re an owl enthusiast and looking for more info on how to attract Great Horned Owls to your yard – we’ve got you covered!

Great Horned Owls are famous, and it’s easy to see why. They’re beautiful, majestic, and absolutely fearless. They’re also the birds we’ve seen in one form or the other, in movies, cartoons, you name it. However, if you’re looking to make your backyard more inviting to the Great Horned species – there are certain factors you should be aware of.

That’s where we come in. This feature includes easy-to-implement pointers to help you attract more owls to your doorstep. And, there’s also helpful info about the temperament of Great Horned Owls. So, without further ado – let’s get started. 

Great Horned Owls 101

If you live in North America – it’s not likely you’ve never heard of Great Horned Owls. They’re pretty prevalent throughout the continental United States. Nonetheless, they prefer the peace and quiet of forests and clearings.

Identifying a horned owl is easy enough – thanks to its adorable ear tufts and the grey-brown barring (checkered) on the wings.

Also, horned owlets are particularly cute with their large, distinctive eyes, triangular ears, and white-grey fluffy feathers. The females of this species are larger than their male counterparts. They also have a higher pitch when belting out the classic ‘hoot.’

Horned owls are incredibly skilled hunters, and their prey includes amphibians, reptiles, other birds, and even medium-sized mammals. In short, their diet is carnivorous.

As competitive hunters, horned owls can get pretty aggressive when other predators are near and are known to go after raptors at times.

Behavior-wise, these birds are more than fearless. They don’t back down from attacking prey bigger than them in size and can attack large dogs or humans – if they get anywhere near their vicinity while nesting. However, their aggressive nature only comes to the fore when they sense some element of threat. Otherwise, they’re solitary nocturnal birds that only come out to hunt during the early morning or twilight hours.

 attracting great horned owls

Tips For Attracting Great Horned Owls To Your Yard

Inviting horned owls to your yard not only adds to the overall scenic ambiance, but they’re also excellent for clearing out of control rodent populations. So, if you’re looking for top-notch tips to help you summon these dignified birds of prey – this section is for you!


Have you ever heard of the great horned owl nesting box? Owls like making their nest in aged woodlands with hollow trees that make for perfect nesting spots. They also have a habit of searching for their prey from high perches for better visuals. So, if you happen to have a tree with a hollow cavity in your backyard – you’re almost all set. 

If not, invest in a great horned owl box and set it in a tree about 12 feet off the ground. Try picking a tree with plenty of large branches so that your feathery friends have the perfect spot for observing prey. 


Maybe it’s because owls look so dignified, or perhaps it’s their reputation as ferocious hunting birds – but there’s a misconception about owls and birdbaths. Owls like bathing, just as much as the next bird – especially if the weather’s scorching. They’re also known for choosing nesting spots near a convenient water source. So, placing an adequately-sized bird bath around may increase your chances of attracting owls. 


We’ve already stated owls are pretty solitary birds. They like their nesting spots to be nice and secluded. That means any area you’ve singled out for your owlets needs to be isolated too. If you try and set up nesting boxes in a place where there’s a lot of human activity – it can be counterproductive. 


Remember when we said horned owls can get pretty aggressive if anyone strays too near their nesting spots? That’s something else for you to think about before setting up an owl nest. Make sure you don’t select a location where you, your family, or pets frequent.

Because once the owl takes up residence – anyone lurking too close can be at risk. Horned owls are territorial. They will not hesitate to defend their ‘home’ if an unsuspecting party strays too close. And, a horned owl’s talons are not something you want anywhere near your person.

When Should You Not Attract Great Horned Owls To Your Backyard 

Now that we’ve gone over pointers on how to attract great horned owls – let’s discuss when inviting the species to your yard isn’t a good idea. 


Do your young ones like playing in the yard and frequently go out to explore? If yes, then you might want to rethink the decision to attract owls. Kids, especially young ones, are difficult to supervise 24/7 and aren’t conscious of lurking dangers. That’s why, unless your children are at the age where they understand the risks of straying too close to owl nests – it’s best to wait until they are. 


It’s true that most of the time, the reports of owls flying off with cats or small-sized dogs are exaggerated. But, that doesn’t mean there’s no danger of such an eventuality. Great horned owls don’t hesitate to attack prey that’s bigger than them. That means letting your pet’s out during the twilight or early morning hours can be dangerous with a horned owl nest nearby. 


If you live in an area that’s nigh impossible to owl-proof, it’s best to leave observing the birds in their natural habitat. For instance, if you live near a busy road or a well-lit area – there’s not much you can do to rectify the situation. 

Plus, certain owl species are have a protected status in the United States – which means attracting them involves rules and regulations to follow. That’s why it’s best to thoroughly do your research and make sure you know all you need to before taking steps to invite owls to your yard. 


Even though wildlife conservation efforts are picking up speed – sometimes humans and nature don’t mesh too well. To ensure you provide only the best settings for the avifauna you want to attract, you’ll need to be up-to-date on your research. Learn all there to a species before inviting it to your home. That way, the both of you can coexist harmoniously. Once you know the care and maintenance that owls require, asking how to attract great horned owls won’t be necessary anymore!

Read more about Small Birds Of Washington State And Their Details.

Leave a Comment