Great Gray Owl

photo by Phil Swanson

Strix nebulosa
L 39″ (99 cm) W 51″ (130 cm).

Song or calls:
Deep hooo note given at irregular intervals.

Description: Sexes similar. Large rounded head lacks ear tufts; enormous pale facial disk patterned with concentric gray circles; facial disks make yellow eyes look small; yellow bill; and black chin spot. Mottled gray and brown above, with grayish vertical streaking below. Relatively long tail.

Habitat: Usually found in boreal forests and wooded bogs in the far north. Inhabits dense coniferous forests with alpine meadows in the southern fringe of its range.

Where in Nebraska: Accidental. Most recent sightings include one in Douglas County, 1948; Lincoln County, 1950; and Dixon County in 1978.

Fun Facts: The largest owl in North America. Great Gray Owls have been known to drive off predators as large as Black Bears when defending the nest.

Great Gray Owl - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)