Great Gray Owl

Strix nebulosa

Order

STRIGIFORMES

Family

Barn Owls, Typical Owls (Tytonidae & Strigidae)

Code 4

GGOW

Code 6

STRNEB

ITIS

ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Great Gray Owl is a large owl located throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Its preferred breeding grounds are found in North America, including Lake Superior, the Pacific coast and Alaska, Scandinavia and northern Asia. These birds are typically permanent residents. However, low food supplies may cause them to fly south and southeast at times. A secluded population also exists in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. Breeding habitats are dense coniferous woodlands and open areas such as meadowlands. This species does not build its own nest; it typically uses nests left from other large birds. They feed almost exclusively on voles and small rodents. This species’ conservation rating is Least Concern.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Great Gray Owl: Large owl, dark gray body interspersed with bars and flecks of brown, pale gray, and white. Head is large and without ear tufts. Yellow eyes are relatively small. Bulky appearance when perching due to dense, fluffy plumage, long wings extending past body, and relatively long tail.

 

Range and Habitat

Great Gray Owl: Found from central Alaska across Canada, down the northern portions of the Rocky Mountains, and into extreme northern Minnesota; also found in northern Europe and Asia. Preferred habitats include stunted coniferous forests along the edge of the Arctic tree line and mixed or coniferous forests.

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Great Gray Owl SONGS AND CALLS

Great Gray Owl DD1

Territorial call is a deep "whoooo, woo, woo, woo".

Great Gray Owl L1

Harsh "sher-rick" begging calls from a juvenile.

Similar Sounding


Voice Text

"whooooooo-woo-wo", "hoot"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • The Great Gray Owl was first described by Johann Reinhold Forster in 1772. They have also been called the Phantom of the north, Spectral Owl, Lapland Owl, Spruce Owl, Bearded Owl and Sooty Owl.
  • They have been known to drive off predators as large as black bears when defending their nest.
  • When hot, they will pant and droop their wings, exposing an unfeathered area called an apterid.
  • A group of owls has many collective nouns, including a "bazaar", "glaring", "parliament", "stooping", and "wisdom" of owls.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP NORTH AMERICA

About this North America Map

This map shows how this species is distributed across North America.

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Chris Vest

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BIRDS AND BIRDING

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Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X