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Great Gray Owl
Great Gray Owl.png
Names
Common Name: Great Gray Owl
Scientific Name: Strix nebulosa
Appearance
Very large with dappled gray feathers and a large facial disk.
Behavior
Large, silent, and strong

Great Gray Owls (Strix nebulosa) are the largest species of owl by length. They are the only species of the genus Strix found in both Eastern and Western Hemispheres. In some areas it is called Phantom of the North.

Information

Description

Adults have a round head with no ear tufts and the largest facial disc of any raptor. Their body is light and dark grey, with a white collar below the beak, and yellow eyes. While its size is deceptive due to its fluffy feathers, it has the longest tail of any extant owl. The length ranges from 24 to 33 in (61 to 84 cm), averaging 28 in (72 cm) for females and 26 in (67 cm) for males. The wingspan can exceed 5 ft (152 cm), but averages 4 ft 8 in (142 cm) for females and 4 ft 7 in (140 cm) for males. The weight ranges from 1.28 to 4.19 lb (580 to 1,900 g), averaging 2.84 lb (1,290 g) for females and 2.2 lb (1,000 g) for males. They are outweighed by most owls in the Bubo genus. The adult's call is a series of deep, rhythmic "whoos", but they are normally silent. They are not as aggressive or territorial as other owls, making them difficult to find in the field. The exception is when protecting eggs or owlets, the female will be especially alert and aggressive.

Ecology

They are often found in dense coniferous forests of the taiga, near open areas such as meadows or bogs. They can sometimes be found in mixed oak woodlands. Despite mostly living in northern areas, it can survive in a few areas where summer temperatures exceed 100 °F (38 °C). Due to their large size, they have few natural predators. Their young can be preyed upon by black bears, various small carnivores, and Great Horned Owls. The only known predators for adult Great Grays is the Eurasian Eagle-Owl.

Diet

They are active mostly at night. They will wait, listen, and watch for prey, and then swoop down on it. With their excellent hearing, they can even do this through 2 feet of snow. They are the only species, save for a few other large Strix genus owls, that snow-plunge. They will also may fly low through open areas in search of prey. Their diet consists almost entirely of small rodents. What species depends on which is most abundant and available, including voles, pocket gophers, and lemmings. They are not known to scavenge or steal from other predators. In mated pairs, the male is the primary hunter who provides for the whole family, while the female guards and broods the eggs, nestlings, and flightless fledglings.

Reproduction

They do not build nests, instead using nests previously used by other large birds, like raptors. They will also nest in broken-topped trees or in large tree cavities. Four eggs are the usual clutch size. If food is scarce, they may not attempt to nest, but will also travel a fair distance to find food.

Significant Great Gray Owls

History

The Capture

On the border of Tyto and Ambala, Soren and Gylfie meet Twilight. It's his idea to head for the Great Ga'Hoole Tree.

The Journey

While distracted in The Beaks, Twilight sings about himself. Upon reaching the great tree, he's eager to fight, but also worried the band will be split up. He eventually gets placed in the Search-and-Rescue Chaw, and along with Digger, manages to find Eglantine.

The Rescue

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The Siege

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The Shattering

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The Burning

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The Hatchling

Coryn used his Firesight to discover that his father was not killed by Soren, as his mother told him, but by a Great Gray Owl.

The Outcast

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The Coming of Hoole

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The Golden Tree

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The River of Wind

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Exile

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The War of the Ember

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A Guide Book to the Great Tree

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Lost Tales of Ga'Hoole

Tavis and Cletus, living in the Desert of Kuneer, meet the treacherous Burrowing Owl Tarn. They soon uncover a Pure Ones plot, and finding themselves outnumbered, do their best to evacuate as many of their Burrowing Owl neighbors as possible.

The Rise of a Legend

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Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

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Trivia

  • The species name nebulosa is Latin for "misty" or "foggy".
  • The Great Gray Owl is the official bird of Manitoba, Canada.

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