Great Gray Owl

It's always a special moment when an owl is spotted. Which is hard since they blend in so nicely with their surroundings and most are not active during the day. I have been fortunate enough to come across in Banff, Great Horned Owl, Northern Hawk Owl, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Barred Owl, Boreal Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl and number of times have seen the  Great Gray Owl. Still hoping to see the owls that only pass through Banff, Long-eared Owl, with more luck to see Short-eared Owl and keeping all my fingers and toes crossed to see the beautiful Snowy Owl. There are lot of places outside  the mountains where these owls are spotted more often, but I enjoy the challenge of finding them in Banff National Park. 
 

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Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl can consume several voles per day, to do that they have a great ability to hear and locate the voles in thick grass and in the winter under the cover of snow. The facial disc helps the owl direct sounds to its ears. They have asymmetrical ear openings, the left ear opening is higher than the right ear opening. Which enables the owl more accurately decide where the prey is before attempting to ponce on it. If that was not amazing enough, it has been reported that one Great Gray Owl broke through the snow crust that could hold a 170 pound human. All that work for a tasty vole. 

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Great Gray Owl

It has been a while since I last saw a Great Gray Owl. I came across this beautiful owl recently, it was hunting. It did not come across any prey while I was there, it moved from tree to tree as it listened for anything moving under the not so deep snow. I more or less stayed put as it moved around and before I know it, it was gone.

Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl

The Great Gray Owl is one of the bigger owl found in the park, by size but not by weight. Even with its wingspan of 52 inches, it weighs in at only 2.4 pounds. The Great Gray Owl can be found year around in the park and no matter the season they are always a nice surprise when spotted. I got to see this one early one morning, hunting for food. It was difficult the get a good picture of it in flight with  low early morning light. So I concentrated on getting a good picture of it while it was perched and turning it into black and white to show the focus on its eye. 

Until next moment, 

Amar

Great Gray Owl

Everything took place in seconds. I was driving and saw an owl fly across the road about 100 meters ahead of me and soon determined it was a Great Gray Owl. Watched it perch on a tree, I pulled to the side and quickly grabbed few pictures. Right after that it flew away, not sure because of me or cause of other vechicles going by.

Until next moment,

Amar

Great Grey Owl

For me photography is about telling a story. Sometime that happens quickly, other times I have to wait for all the parts to come together before the  story can be told. For this picture I waited until the Great Grey Owl heard a vole moving through the grass, it took to the sky and just before heading toward the ground, I grabbed the picture. 

Until next moment,

Amar

Late Lunch

A vole resembling a mouse, with smaller eyes and ears and a shorter tail being some of the differences. They can grow 3-9 inches long, depending upon the various 155 species. Since they can have 5-10 litters per year, gestation lasting 3 weeks and sexual maturity reached in a month. It's not hard to believe a yard can have 100 or more voles in under a year, with average littler being between 5-10 young. 

 

So it's a good thing there are number of predators maintaining a balance, such as hawks, coyotes, foxes, snakes, weasels, cats and dogs to name a few, including the Great Grey Owl.

Until next moment,

Amar

Great Grey Owl

It has been said, we can all make a difference. But I feel those words just don't only apply to humans. The last few weeks an owl has been making a difference around the town of Banff, connecting people to nature. Great Grey Owls normally hunt during the early and late hours of the day, remaining time spent resting in the security of the evergreen. But this owl has often been spotted during daylight perched near passersby, giving many an opportunity at a rare view of this beautiful bird. An opportunity we will not soon forget.

Until next moment,

Amar