Posts from the ‘behavior’ Category

Hunting with a Great Gray Owl: Shooting with Sparky video

Great Grey Owl, Sax-Zim Bog, Minnesota

What are the odds? I took a compass bearing to head straight through the center of a large Black Spruce bog last week, hoping (but not really believing) that I’d possibly, just maybe, hear a begging young Great Gray Owl.

Less than a hundred yards into the bog, I stopped dead in my tracks; There was a hunting Great Gray only about 50 feet from me and only 10 feet up in a spruce! She barely looked at me, and continued hunting. See how the adventure unfolded in the video below:

Join me as I enter the dark and haunting bogs of the far northern Minnesota wilds in search of the elusive and giant phantom of the north—the Great Gray Owl! (How’s that for drama!)

I especially like this Great Gray Owl photo because of several factors:
a. It was NOT shot along a road…like 99.9% of all Great Grey Owl images.
b. She is NOT looking at me…She (or he?) is busy hunting…too preoccupied to worry about a mere human.
c. I love the out of focus wispy Tamarack branches…Lends an air of wildness and hints at their bog habitat.

All photos taken with Canon 7D and Canon 400mm f5.6 (sometimes with 1.4x or 2x teleconverter), tripod, processed in Aperture.
All video shot with equipment listed above at 1/60 second and processed in iMovie.

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Great Gray Owl Behavior— Erect Alarm Posture

Here is a single frame from some video I took of a Great Gray Owl trying to melt into his background but still keeping an eye on the intruder…In this case a fly-over Common Raven. Looks very different than the “fat and fluffy” appearance of a relaxed or hunting Great Gray.

In this video I show footage from two different incidents in which a Great Gray Owl detects an “enemy”…in one case a Bald Eagle, and in the other a Common Raven. Note how the owl stretches itself vertically to become “skinny,” (concealment posture or erect alarm posture) and then backs up to be next to the trunk (presumably to blend in) and then presents its narrowest profile towards the raven or eagle.

So the question is, Why would a Great Gray not want to be detected by a raven or an eagle? The well-known Canadian Great Gray Owl researcher, Robert Nero, wrote a neat book about a captive Great Gray called Lady Grayl: Owl with a Mission. In it he says that he’s only witnessed it once in the wild and that was when an immature Bald Eagle flew a hundred meters over a perched Great Gray. He goes on to say that even though Bald Eagles rarely bother Great Grays, this bird was probably not responding to the species of raptor, but rather the raptor image…”Better to be safe than sorry!”

Filmed in the Sax-Zim Bog of northern Minnesota. Ironically, the eagle incident was filmed on March 3, 2011, exactly one year before the raven footage.

Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens, tripod