Tagged: great gray owl

Strix nebulosa

In my opinion, one of the most appropriate Latin names for any bird is that of the Great Gray Owl: Strix nebulosa. The species certainly has a nebulous character, roosting deep in dense woods, and only appearing at the edges of open areas near dawn and dusk to hunt, which makes it rather hard to find with the limited hours of daylight in the winter. Once one actually locates this owl, it is immediately evident that though it seems very lethargic, it is extremely aware of all that is happening in its surroundings. For instance, it is very possible to have them suddenly launch off their perch only to catch a vole under a few feet of snow. They show very little fear of humans; there have been many photos posted showing people standing right next to a Great Gray Owl. When in flight, their wingspan is truly impressive.

They tend to come south in any good numbers only once every few years, when the vole population crashes further north. The large invasion in the winter of 2004-2005 was well documented, but in the years since then there haven’t been too many that came south.

This past winter I was able to get numerous photos of a pair of them that wintered near Ottawa; most photos are from a trip in February with Alex Mody.

Great Gray Owl pouncing on prey
Great Gray Owl pouncing on prey (click to enlarge)
Great Gray Owl headon
Great Gray Owl headon (click to enlarge)
Great Gray Owl hunting in heavy snow
Great Gray Owl hunting in heavy snow (click to enlarge)

Great Gray owl sideview
Great Gray Owl pouncing on prey from the side (click to enlarge)

Great Gray Owl wingspan
Great Gray Owl wingspan (click to enlarge)

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