Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 01/28/2014

Photo taken on January 10, 2014

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Great Grey Owl
Strix nebulosa
front view
Griffith Woods
bird of prey
Great Gray Owl

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Waiting patiently

Waiting patiently
On 10 January 2014, I had to remove my vehicle from the parking lot for the whole day, so that snow removal people could remove some of the snow and ice. I decided that if I drove over to the west of the city and went for a walk, that would kill a few hours. A Great Gray Owl had recently been reported, so I knew I needed to keep my eyes open. Shortly after I started, I passed someone who had just seen the owl about 20 minutes earlier, so I felt hopeful that it was still there. Further into the park, several other people gradually appeared, and it's always useful to have extra pairs of eyes. Eventually, it was finally spotted, hidden within the trees - well hidden! While I was there, it flew along the outer edge of the trees and then in among the trees, giving us some good views each time. It's always fascinating to watch how focused these owls are when hunting - it did catch a Meadow Vole and flew up to a broken tree stump deep within the trees to feed on it. A few other attempts were made, but when it landed, it was out of sight, so I don't know if it caught some other prey or not. I was exhausted by the time I got home, mainly from walking through the deep snow. So glad I was "forced" out of my home, though, otherwise I wouldn't have made the effort to drive across the city. We don't normally get Great Gray Owls within Calgary - I think one was reported something like 17 years ago - so this was an absolute treat. The owl was seen on several days over a period of maybe 10 days or so, but I don't think it has been seen since then, so presumably it has moved on. Always a shame when this happens and lots of people still hadn't had the chance to see it - but that's birding for you! This one may be a juvenile.

A friend sent me the following information that she had received from Gus Yaki, a well-known Naturalist in the city. When asked about the possibility of the food supply having run out, he did not think the owl was feeding well because it was hunting during mid-day. It should have been hunting at dawn and dusk and sleeping during the day. He said they have excellent hearing. Also, he said he has not seen many small mammal tracks at this location and apparently the Meadow Voles have to surface to allow carbon dioxide to exit from their tunnels. He also said the owls see in ultraviolet which causes mouse urine to shine so they would see that." Thank you for passing on this interesting information, Bonnie.

Les's Photography AKA aligeeach, Sunny Clark, LeapFrog and 2 other people have particularly liked this photo

Nicole Le Roy
Nicole Le Roy
Vraiment splendide !
4 years ago.
Cats 99
Cats 99
He is so beautiful! I know we have some GGOwls around, but so far I haven't seen any. One fellow I know has seen a few, but he says he sees them around dusk near the side of the highway. I suppose that is a good sign that they are getting enough to eat and they don't have to hunt during the day around here right now.
4 years ago.
Haha ... love it ... what a terrific face and so animated ... LOL
4 years ago.
Sunny Clark
Sunny Clark
Wonderful shot.
4 years ago.
Great find - and great eyes.
4 years ago.