We have been hearing owls in the evening at our property in the forested area southwest of Eugene. In all of the 22 years we have lived here, Great Horned Owls have nested nearby. Before sundown and into the evening, deep hoots echo through Fox Hollow; the deeper voice is the male and the higher pitched hoots are the larger female. Breeding season has already begun for this species, even though the landscape is wet and the temperatures wintery. Those deep hoots are communicating territory claims as well as courtship and pair bonding—annual rituals for the pair that mates for life.
Great Horned Owls start nesting in January, raising their families in the depths of winter. Like other owls, they do not build their own nests, but take over the abandoned homes of other species, including squirrels, ravens, herons, and Red-tailed Hawks.