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© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Jouko Lehmuskallio. Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Great Grey Owl

Strix nebulosa

  • Family: Owls – Strigidae
  • Appearance: A large owl with a big head. Face has a striking aloof expression, created by narrow concentric rings around bright yellow eyes. Broad dark band on tail tip. Primary wing feathers have a brownish yellow band near base.
  • Size: Length 59–68 cm, wingspan 128–148 cm, weight 650 g–1.1 kg (male), 1–1.9 kg (female).
  • Nest: In an abandoned raptor’s nest or the broken trunk of a stout tree.
  • Breeding: 4–7 eggs laid March–April, incubated by female for about a month. Owlets hatch at different times and leave the nest after about three weeks, long before they learn to fly.
  • Distribution: Scarce and irregular breeder in coniferous forests in Lapland and other northern regions, may also occasionally nest in Central and Southern Finland. Finnish breeding population estimated at 300–1,500 pairs.
  • Migration: Sedentary, but when food is in short supply may range over wider areas, even as far as the south coast of Finland and occasionally on to Southern Sweden and Northern Germany. Such vagrants may be observed between September and April.
  • Diet: In spite of its huge size, mainly feeds on small rodents, which it catches using its excellent hearing, sometimes even finding prey beneath deep snow.
  • Calls: A hollow hoot “uuh” repeated at intervals of about a second around ten times.

Great Grey Owls are almost as large as Eagle Owls. Their plumage is grey with many dark streaks. They have large heads, with bright yellow staring eyes surrounded by a set of narrow concentric rings. Their faces are also marked with a black beard-like patch and bushy white eyebrows. Their tails are quite long, with a broad dark band at the tip.

A good distinguishing feature on Great Grey Owls in flight is a brownish yellow patch formed by the colouring on the bases of their primary wing feathers. Their legs are covered with feathers and have brown claws. They have yellow beaks and their irises are also bright yellow.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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