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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.

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
24–33.1 in
61–84 cm
Wingspan
53.9–60.2 in
137–153 cm
Weight
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.

Habitat


Forest

Boreal forest.

Food


Mammals

Small mammals, especially rodents.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Egg Description
White.
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

Tree

Behavior


Aerial Dive

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

Conservation

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 2014 State of the Birds Watch List.

Credits

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.

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