• Skip to Content
  • Skip to Main Navigation
  • Skip to Local Navigation
  • Skip to Search
  • Skip to Sitemap
  • Skip to Footer
Help develop a Bird ID tool!

Great Gray Owl

Strix nebulosa ORDER: STRIGIFORMES FAMILY: STRIGIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A huge owl of the boreal forest and western mountains, the Great Gray Owl feeds on rather small rodent prey.

Learn more about NestWatch
Build a Birdhouse

Appearance

Owls
Owls
Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Very large gray owl.
  • Round head without ear tufts.
  • Black and white "bowtie" under face.
  • Eyes yellow.

Immature Description

Similar to adult.

Range Map Help

Great Gray Owl Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

  •  

    Great Gray Owl

     
    • Very large owl with broad, circular facial disc
    • Small bill almost hidden by feathers of facial disc
    • Mottled gray plumage with darker markings on breast
    • © Ronald Kube, Cochrane, Alberta, Canada, May 2012
  •  

    Great Gray Owl

     
    • Very large owl with elongated body shape
    • Broad, gray facial disc with dark, concentric "rings"
    • White "beard"
    • © Ronald Kube, Grand Valley, Alberta, Canada, May 2012
  •  

    Great Gray Owl

     
    • Very large, mottled gray owl
    • Broad, gray facial disc with dark, concentric rings gives intimidating appearance
    • Yellow eyes
    • © Raymond Lee, Alberta, Canada, December 2010

Similar Species

  • Adult

    Barred Owl

    Adult
    • Slightly smaller and warmer brown overall
    • Dark, vertical streaks on breast
    • Dark eyes
    • © Jim McCree, Orono, Maine, May 2013

Similar Species

  • Barred Owl much smaller, has dark eyes, lacks black-and-white throat markings.

    Backyard Tips

    Consider putting up a nest box to attract a breeding pair. Make sure you put it up well before breeding season. Attach a guard to keep predators from raiding eggs and young. Find out more about nest boxes on our Attract Birds pages. You'll find plans for building a nest box of the appropriate size on our All About Birdhouses site.