Photographed in Vivian, Manitoba
Canon EOS T3i; Canon IS 50-250mm lens
The Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa) is ranked by birders as number six among the fifty most-wanted birds on the continent. A rare bird, this species has been seen more regularly in parts of Manitoba than elsewhere in Canada. It is thus fitting that on July 16, 1987, by an Act of the Manitoba Legislature, the Great Gray Owl was officially named the Provincial Bird Emblem. Elevation of the status of the Great Gray Owl from unprotected in 1962 to provincial bird emblem in 1987, is in recognition of owls and other birds of prey as a valuable and treasured part of the natural world, and worthy of protection.
Big, bold and beautiful, the Great Gray Owl attracts attention wherever it is found. This denizen of the northern forest, with a wingspan of 1.5 m (5 ft.), is the largest North American owl, even larger than the heavier Great Horned Owl and Snowy Owl. Male and female Great Gray Owls look alike, but, as is the case for all birds of prey, the female is larger than the male. Males weigh up to 1.2 kg (2.6 Ibs.), females up to 1.8 kg (4 Ibs.). Bright yellow eyes, a lack of ear-tufts or “horns”, a broad, round face and conspicuous white chin patches are key identifing features of this species. At night its low, booming "whoo-whoo-whoo … " may be heard echoing across spruce-tamarack boglands.