Great Grey Owl

Name

Great Grey Owl

Scientific Name

Strix nebulosa

Characteristics

The great grey owl’s scientific name, Strix nebulosa, refers to the bird’s screech (strix) and dark, cloudy colouration (nebulosa).

The great grey owl has incredibly sensitive hearing which enables it to pinpoint the location of a sound. The bird’s hearing is improved by its large facial disk which acts like a satellite dish, funnelling sound to the owl’s ears. Their hearing is so good that they can hear a mouse’s heartbeat under several feet of snow!

This type of owl is crepuscular which means it mostly hunts at dawn and dusk. However, it may hunt in daylight hours or at night-time if food is scarce or if weather conditions are poor.

If breeding is successful, the female will incubate the eggs for 28 days. The male bird will provide food for the female during this time period. Chicks fledge (leave the nest) at around 8 weeks but remain close to the mother for several months before becoming fully independent. 

Diet

They mostly eat small rodents and occasionally eat birds too.

Size Fact

The great grey owl is the biggest species of owl in the northern hemisphere.

Food Fact

The great grey owl can dive into snow to retrieve its prey- this is known as ‘snow plunging’.

Fun Fact

This bird is known to growl at its adversaries!

IUCN Red list

They are classed as ‘least concern’ on the IUCN Red List.

Where do I live?

These owls are distributed across the northern hemisphere. They are usually (although not always) found in cold climates. 

 

 

Daily talk

The great grey owl regularly features in our bird of prey display.

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