Photographed at Kingsville, Ontario
Nikon D90 with Sigma 150 – 500 mm
This magnificent bird has flown south from its native boreal forests, looking for mice and voles to sustain it through the winter. It ended up in southwestern Ontario, near Point Pelee National Park, an unexpected destination.
The Great Grey Owl, a circumpolar bird of northern forests, is often considered the largest species of owl in Canada. Appearances can be deceiving. It is, in fact, typically outweighed by both the Great Horned (Bubo virginianus) and Snowy (Nyctea scandiaca) owls. A Great Grey can weigh between 800 and 1700g – a formidable size for any bird – but its imposing appearance is actually created by a dense layer of feathering designed to maintain body temperature. It isn’t surprising then, to note that a Great Grey’s feet are small and weak in comparison to the stocky Great Horned Owl. Greys prey on rodents; mice, voles and lemmings being their main sources of food. These seemingly large, powerful predators can not take down water birds such as ducks or geese and do not have the strength to kill a cat.
Great Greys are known for their huge parabolic facial discs which they use to help locate and capture prey. Concentric rings extend from their bright yellow eyes. The white chin bib adds to their “wise” and “dignified” appearance. Greys are truly beautiful and unmistakable owls.