Monday, February 14, 2011

Great Gray Owl - Idaho

This young Great Gray Owl watches its' mother hunt for voles. When it sees that its' mother has caught something, it will make some loud screeching noises, hoping that the mother owl will feed it first. I sometimes find these owls by following the sounds the hungry young make. Great Gray Owls are tolerant of photographers if you move slowly and use a large telephoto lens so you can take photos from a distance.

When the owlets get this large, they are good fliers and will often fly out to their mother and try to take the vole away from her. Great Gray Owls often hunt during the day when they have young to feed. They prefer cloudy or overcast days, but will hunt on bright days if their young are hungry enough.

Great Gray Owls nest on broken tree tops or on old nests made by hawks or eagles. Clear cutting of forests leaves no old broken tops for them to nest on and makes it hard for them to produce young. They will nest in wooden nest boxes nailed up on the side of a tree. The box just needs to be an open box with room for the eggs and young.

One of the problems that Great Gray Owls have where I live in Idaho, is that they are pursued by over-eager graduate students who want to put big metal leg bands and radios on them. I used to have a pair nesting within walking distance of my home until they were harassed out of the area by a graduate student who followed them every day. He had radios on both adults and leg bands on the entire family.

I had to travel a few miles to get this photo a year ago.

Canon 40D with 500 mm Canon lens.


  1. I desire of my heart to get captures like this beauty of yours one day. Great Grey Owls are on my short life list of birds to photograph. Once again, your story is like a dart in the gut for me to even begin to comprehend people that use our tax dollars, to abuse, yes abuse wildlife this way.


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