Finding Great Gray Owls
Great gray owl on a snowy evening
I am often asked where do I find all the great gray owls I photograph. I have thousands of photos of great gray owls and find them in all seasons. In the short video at the end of this blog post, I describe the type of habitat where you are more probable to find great gray owls. Before heading to the video and describing their habitat I want to mention a few other things that are helpful when looking for great gray owls.
Great gray owl at sunset
While lots of resources talk about looking for great gray owls in coniferous trees, I would say this is true when they are roosting during the day. In the morning or evening when they are out hunting you are more likely to find them on deciduous trees on the ends of open branches that put them as close to their prey as possible. When they are out hunting they are not hiding.
Often a signal that an owl is in the area is the call of other birds like chickadees, jays, and even ravens. These birds will give off alarm calls and will pester the owl to try to get it to move. So if you hear numerous birds making a raucous there is a good possibility an owl is in the area.
Great gray owl hovering above its prey
If you have no luck finding an owl during the daylight hours spend some time out in the evening listening for them. If you are unsure of the vocalizations of a great gray owl I highly recommend the free Merlin Bird ID app by Cornell Labs, If you locate their area by sound in the evening go back to the same locale early the next morning and look for signs of the owl such as pellets around the bottom of trees. Then start investigating that area closely and looking carefully to the base of the tree as an owl will tuck itself in usually during the day when not out hunting and blend in very easily with their environment.