Great Horned Owls are the largest common owl in North America. Great Gray Owls of northern North America are diurnal, with a larger, grayer head and without ear tufts. Barred Owls are slightly smaller than Great Horned Owls, with dark eyes and without ear tufts. Barn Owls are smaller and much paler than Great Horned Owls, often appearing all white when flying at dusk. They have a unique, heart-shaped face and lack ear tufts. The Great Horned Owl’s deep, off-rhythm hooting is also unlike other North American owls and fairly easy to recognize.
Great Horned Owls vary in color tone across their range: birds from the Pacific Northwest tend to be dark sooty; individuals across the Southwest are paler and grayer; and birds from subarctic Canada can be almost white.