The Homestone

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Great Gray Owl at our windowsill

Excerpt from "The Owl Pages" One of the World's largest Owls, the Great Gray Owl was first described by Johann Reinhold Forster in 1772. The name "nebulosa" is derived from the Latin "Nebulosus", meaning misty or foggy. The Great Gray Owl has also been called Great Gray Ghost, Phantom of the north, Cinerous Owl, Spectral Owl, Lapland Owl, Spruce Owl, Bearded Owl and Sooty Owl. The Great Gray Owl hunts mainly during early morning and late afternoon, especially during winter, but will also hunt during other daylight hours and at night. They are often seen perched on poles or fenceposts along roads. When hunting, a Great Gray Owl will use a perch to "sit and wait" or it may hunt through the forest a metre or so (a few feet) above the ground. When ground is covered with snow, a Great Gray Owl can hunt by hearing alone and often plunges into the snow to capture small rodents moving underneath as far as 30 centimetres (12 inches). Although a very large Owl, small rodents are their primary prey (80 to 90% of diet) with voles being the most important food in Alaska, Canada and Oregon. These photos of our Great Gray were taken by David a few weeks ago. In broad daylight; this magnificent owl landed on the little tree right outside our kitchen window. We watched for almost an hour as he perched and watched and listened, and hunted for voles under the snow.