2022—The Day of the Great Gray Owl

On our last day in Sax-Zim Bog, we had three encounters with Great Gray Owls, all before breakfast! Whether it was an ice cream dessert the night before (which usually guarantees wildlife sightings), a new wildlife draw possibility in the form of Minnesota style Cheese Curds, or just plain luck, we had no sooner entered the Bog about 8AM when Moose slowed on Highway 7 and Pat called out “Owl!” We spent about 10 minutes with a Great Gray, too far away to photograph but great fun to watch hunt. After a while, we noticed stopped cars ahead on the highway and people and cameras out of vehicles so we joined the group. The owl was perched on a cable just about thirty feet away from the edge of the road. While the perch did not make for ideal photographic conditions, what with the owl perched on a manmade cable instead of a lichen covered stump, and gray skies as a backdrop, we were determined. We positioned ourselves directly in front of the owl as it swiveled its head in search of its morning fare. What is fascinating to me is that this huge owl constantly swivels its head in search of prey. Its facial disk is designed to funnel sound to its ears so it can hear its prey, and it can swivel its head 270°. I felt lucky and privileged when it paused swiveling briefly and seemed to stare directly at me. We had about 5 minutes with this owl before it flew over our heads and across the road to the security of the forest. Our third encounter was brief as a Great Gray flew across one of the bog roads and disappeared into the trees, not to be seen by us again. Our three Great Gray encounters were a fabulous ending to a very fun bird adventure.

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