Great Gray Owl

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This owl flew within feet of us, silently hunting a mouse under the snow.

Great Gray Owls are my husbands favorite owl. You can find them in the Jackson and Teton area, but it has to be a very cold winter to find them close to our house. We were lucky enough to have such a winter a few years ago. We spent many days looking for a pair that had migrated down to our area. We knew where they were but out of respect for landowners and the birds we had to be very patient to get the opportunity to see them. And when we finally did, what a treat! These large birds of prey are quite incredible to watch! It’s amazing when a bird of that size will soundlessly fly by you in search of prey or a new perching spot.We were fortunate enough to even watch one hunting and catch a little mouse under the snow. If you are patient and sit and watch one, you can see it moving it’s head around listening, trying to pinpoint where its next prey item is.

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A pair of Great Gray Owls that lives outside of Jackson.

Great Gray Owls are the tallest of the North American owls reaching heights of 33in, but most of that size is deceiving as they are mostly fluff and feathers. The Great Horned Owl and the Snowy Owl are actually heavier. The Great Gray feeds primarily on small rodents, using hearing to find the small prey under the snow. Their hearing is so good, they can hear a rodent a foot under the snow and plunge into that snow to catch it. While most owl species are nocturnal, Great Gray Owls will hunt during the day.

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This was our first Great Gray Owl sighting. Sadly, the foggy morning made for slightly blurry photos, however the effect kind of worked here, making for an eerie looking photo.

 

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