I was both fortunate and honoured to spend yesterday afternoon photographing four Great Gray owls just fifteen minutes from my home, here in Ottawa, Ontario. The Great Gray – commonly called the Phantom of the North – is a rare visitor to southern and eastern Ontario, with a home range and breeding ground in the northern Boreal forests.
Every four or five years these “ghost-like” birds move southward – usually en masse – typically in search of food. 2012/2013 is the year they have made an appearance once again, although not in as great numbers as one of the largest irruptions, occurring in 2004/2005. Many years not a single bird is spotted, so to spend time with one – let alone four – is truly a rare treat.
In terms of length, the Great Gray owl is the largest owl in North America, ranging from 24 to 33 inches. The wingspan can exceed 60 inches. Much of its size is deceptive, since this species’ fluffy feathers, large head and the longest tail of any extant owl obscure a body lighter than that of most other large owls.
Great Gray owls are very tolerant of daylight and have a relaxed attitude around humans, making them a wonderful photo subject if you are lucky enough to find one.
Enjoy the Outdoors,
(click on images to view at full size)