Great horned owl, Yellowstone National Park, 2014.
The great horned owl (Bubo virginianus) was originally called the 'winged tiger' or 'tiger of the air' by naturalists, which has gained it the modern nickname of tiger owl. This extremely adaptable bird has such a large range that it's the most widely distributed true owl in the Americas. It will hunt anything that it can overpower, even mid-sized mammals, birds or reptiles. Interestingly, it is one of the earliest nesting birds in North America, laying its eggs weeks - or even months! - earlier than other raptors. It is most recognized for its conspicuous ear tufts, nicknamed 'horns', that are shared by all members of the genus Bubo. Unfortunately, the conspicuous nature of these horns has lead to a fairly common misconception that, rather than simply being tufts of feathers, they are either true horns or cover the owl's ears. Neither is true.