Friday, April 13, 2012
Great Gray Owl
The Great Gray Owl has a body length of about 24 - 33 inches, a wingspan of 4 1/2 - 5 feet, and weighs only 1 1/2 - 3 pounds, despite its large size.
The main food of this owl is small mammals, like voles, but it will also eat birds, amphibians, and insects. They hunt mainly during dusk and dawn (crepuscular) from a perch at the forest edge or in a clearing, but will also hunt at night (nocturnal) and occasionally during the daytime (diurnal).
Great Gray Owls will usually use another bird’s abandoned nest, but will also nest in broken tree stumps, man-made platforms, and sometimes on the ground. The female lays 2 - 6 eggs, which are incubated for 28 - 30 days. The young birds leave the nest at 20 - 30 days and fledge 1 - 2 weeks later. Most Great Gray Owls become sexually mature at 3 years.
The scientific name comes from the Greek word strizo, meaning to screech, and the Latin word nebulosa, meaning dark or clouded, and refers to the plumage color. The common name describes this owl's size and color. The Great Gray Owl has also been called Gray Owl, Spectral Owl, Sooty Owl, and Spruce Owl.
Great Gray Owls can hunt for prey under snow cover by using their keen sense of hearing.
The owl will plunge feet first into the snow to catch a rodent that it never saw.
Great Gray Owls are considered the largest of the North American owls, but the Snowy Owl and Great Horned Owl are heavier and more powerful.