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Great Gray Owl


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.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
24–33.1 in
61–84 cm
53.9–60.2 in
137–153 cm
24.7–60 oz
700–1700 g
Other Names
  • Chouette lapone (French)
  • Cárabo lapòn (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Although the Great Gray Owl is the tallest American owl with the largest wingspan, it is just a ball of feathers. It preys on small mammals and has relatively small feet. Both the Great Horned and Snowy owls weigh half again as much, and have larger feet and talons.
  • The oldest recorded Great Gray Owl was at least 18 years, 9 months old and lived in Alberta.



Boreal forest.



Small mammals, especially rodents.


Nesting Facts
Egg Description
Condition at Hatching
Helpless, eyes closed, covered in gray and white down.
Nest Description

Broken-topped dead tree or existing nest of other bird species.

Nest Placement



Aerial Dive

Locates mice below snow by hearing, then plunges down through surface to capture them.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Great Gray Owl are negatively affected by logging and clearcutting, but there is little information on population trends. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 190,000 birds with 43% living in Canada, and 7% in the U.S. The species rates an 11 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, and is not on the 2016 State of the Birds Watch List.


Range Map Help

Great Gray Owl Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

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.

You Might Also Like

Boreal Birds Need Half: A Look At The Numbers Behind The Conservation Campaign, Living Bird, Summer 2015.

Raptors and Rat Poison, Living Bird, Summer 2015.



Or Browse Bird Guide by Family, Name or Shape
bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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