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Great Grey Owl

Great Grey Owl
Photo Information
Copyright: Peter van Zoest (PeterZ) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2010-07-10
Categories: Birds
Camera: Nikon D300, AF Nikkor 70-300mm f4-5.6 G, Digital RAW
Exposure: f/4.2, 1/30 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Date Submitted: 2010-08-25 6:20
Viewed: 3386
Points: 72
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Not all the birds in Weltvogelpark Walsrode are exotic ones. I made there this portrait. I hope you like it.

The Great Grey Owl or Lapland Owl (Strix nebulosa) is a very large owl, distributed across the Northern Hemisphere.

Adults have a big, rounded head with a grey face and yellow eyes with darker circles around them. The underparts are light with dark streaks; the upper parts are grey with pale bars. This owl does not have ear tufts and has the largest "facial disc" of any raptor.

In terms of length, the Great Grey Owl rivals the Eurasian Eagle Owl and the Blakiston's Fish Owl as the world's largest owl. However, much of its size is deceptive, since this species' fluffy feathers, long tail and large head obscure a body lighter than most other large owls. The length may range from 61 to 84 cm (24 to 33 inches), averaging 72 cm (28 inches) for females and 67 cm (26 in) for males. The wingspan can exceed 152 cm (60 inches), but averages 142 cm (56 in) for females and 140 cm (55 in) for males. The adult weight can range from 700 to 1800 grams (1.5 to 4 lbs), averaging 1290 grams (2.8 lbs) for females and 1000 g (2.2 lbs) for males.

They breed in North America from Lake Superior to the Pacific coast and Alaska, and from Scandinavia across northern Asia. They are permanent residents, but may move south and southeast when food is scarce. A small population, estimated at less than 100 birds, occurs in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. This population is the southernmost population of the species' range.

Their breeding habitat is the dense coniferous forests of the taiga, near open areas, such as meadows or bogs. Great grey owls do not build nests, so typically use nests previously used by another large bird, such as a raptor. They will also nest in broken-top trees and cavities in large trees. Nesting may occur from March to May. 4 eggs is the usual clutch size. Eggs average 42.7 mm wide and 53.5 mm long. The incubation period is about 30 days, ranging from 28 to 36 days. Brooding lasts 2 to 3 weeks, after which the female starts roosting on a tree near nests. The young jump or fall from the nest at 3 to 4 weeks, and start to fly 1 to 2 weeks after this. Most offspring remain near their natal sites for many months after fledging.

The abundance of food in the area usually affects the number of eggs a female lays, which is quite common in owl species. If food is scarce, they may travel a short distance to find more prey. However, they do not migrate.

These birds wait, listen and watch for prey, then swoop down; they also may fly low through open areas in search of prey. Their large facial disks focus sound, and the asymmetrical placement of their ears assists them in locating prey. On the nesting grounds, they mainly hunt at night and near dawn and dusk; at other times, they are active mostly during the night.

They have excellent hearing, and may capture prey moving beneath 60 cm of snow in a series of tunnels. These owls can crash through snow that could support the weight of a 180-pound person. Unlike the more versatile eagle and horned owls, Great Grey Owls reply almost fully upon small rodents, with voles being their most important food source. Locally, alternative prey animals (usually comprising less than 20% of prey intake) inlude hares, moles, shrews, weasels, thrushes, grouse, Gray Jays, small hawks and ducks. Great Grey Owl juveniles may themselves fall prey to bears, Fisher (animal)s, and large hawks, especially Northern Goshawks; while adults may fall prey to Bubo (genus) owls and lynxes.

The call of the adult is a series of very deep, rhythmic whoos, which is usually given in correlation to their territories or in interactions with their offspring. At other times, adults are normally silent. The young may chitter, shriek or hiss.

The harvest of timber from the Great Grey Owl's habitat is, perhaps, the greatest threat to this species. Intensified timber management typically reduces live and dead large-diameter trees used for nesting, leaning trees used by juveniles for roosting before they can fly, and dense canopy closures in stands used by juveniles for cover and protection. If perches are not left in clearcuts, Great Gray Owls cannot readily hunt in them. Although human-made structures (made specifically for use by this species) have been utilized by these owls, the species is far more common in area protected from logging. Livestock grazing in meadows also adversely affects Great Gray Owls, by reducing habitat for preferred prey species.

(source: www.wikipedia.org)

ramthakur, joska, MMM, Dis. Ac., uleko, marius-secan, haraprasan, rousettus, maurydv, Miss_Piggy, siggi, jaycee, goldyrs, flashpoint, bahadir, Silvio2006, marhowie, vanda, Argus, Heaven, Hormon_Manyer, anel, Pentaxfriend, CeltickRanger, jusninasirun has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • horias Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 837 W: 58 N: 2084] (11033)
  • [2010-08-25 6:21]

Hi Peter
What a great shot of this lovely grey owl!
Details are very sharp and colors are wonderful!

An amazingly beautigul portrait of this big Owl, Peter.
Every detail on the face is crystal clear.
I like those lively, inquisitive eyes very much.
Thanks for sharing this beauty, neighbour!

  • Great 
  • joska Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 806 W: 0 N: 4092] (22535)
  • [2010-08-25 6:32]

Hi Peter,
Splendid portrait of this interesting Strix nebulosa, I never see this species, TFS!

Ciao Peter. Magnificen contrast here with exciting graphici effect and top details. Impressive focused jeallow eye. So very well done.


  • Great 
  • MMM Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1114 W: 0 N: 2546] (11425)
  • [2010-08-25 6:47]

Hello Peter
Another fantastic portrait.As usual very sharp with great detail and beautiful natural colors.I love the great expression fron is face.Excellent text
TFS Michel

  • Great 
  • GaryT Gold Star Critiquer [C: 102 W: 7 N: 236] (160)
  • [2010-08-25 7:08]

Truly wonderful portrait of this owl. Gary

Hallo Peter,

als hij je helemaal aankeek was ie denk ik nog iets mooier.
Goede scherte en wazige achtergrond.
Mooi portretje van deze uil.
Prachtige kleuren.
Hij kijkt een beetje verrast lijkt het.


Hola Peter

Que imagen mas buena de este buho, con gran nitidez y esos estupendos ojos, perfecto.

Un saludo de Antonio

hallo Peter
super scherpe opname
mooie details en goed licht
super mooie kleuren en mmoie pose
groetjes lou

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2010-08-25 8:10]

Hello Peter,
Uhu, uhu! What a beauty this is!! Fantastic portrait showing wonderful sharp details and lovely colours. Very well frame too! I wish I had those eyes!!
Many thanks and cheers, Ulla

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2010-08-25 8:30]

Hi Peter,this is a wonderfull portrait! What a sharpness and focus,the details of the eyes and of the plums are impressives,and i like a lot how you set your camera in this difficult backlight.Thanks for share,have a nice evening,Luciano.

  • Great 
  • nagraj Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1618 W: 106 N: 3208] (15166)
  • [2010-08-25 8:42]

Stunning eyes, fine closeup of this great owl. tfs.

Hello Peter,
Oustanding portrait of this wonderful Grey Owl.
Exceptional colours, details and focus.
Great composition and excellent POV.

Hi Peter,
A nice capture of this beautiful Great Grey Owl's portrait. Excellent composition with superb sharp details. Thanks a lot for sharing.

Hello Peter
this owl species looks very handsome. It is somewhat similar to Strix aluco, but more different with dark plumage. a great portraite with sharp details, POV/DOF and light using. nicely composed and presented. thanks for sharing, well done

Hallo Peter,
a fantastic portrait of the Lapland Owl, outstanding sharpness and impressive detail, very beautiful colours, a spectacular close composition
Best regards

Hallo Peter
I want to flatter you for fine camerawork done here. The Great Grey Owl is a striking bird with prominent and beautiful features that is well seen. The details in the feathers are just so beautiful and the eyes has magnetism to it. It is really an image to show off. Best regards.

  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2010-08-25 13:19]

Hello Peter,
A superb post.The portrait on this Grey Owl looks great. A spot on exposure has rendered beautiful color and tack sharp detail. Good control on the DOF and a nice OOF BG.Best regards Siggi

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2010-08-25 16:16]

Hi Peter,

A fantastic portrait of this Great Grey Owl - an owl I have not seen before. You must have been really close to get this great shot. The yellow eyes and yellow beak are beautiful against the magnificent black and white feathers. Fantastic details of the face and feathers. The clarity of this photo is superb.


Good Morning MF Peter,

Astonishingly awesome portrait of this magnificent owl. It seems curious:). The POV and use of the light way are incredible.
TFS and have a nice day!


A stunning shot, Peter.
The exposure is perfect here, and perhaps the highlight of this most beautiful shot!

hello Peter!
splendid close-portrait of Strix nebulosa
a very hypnotic gaze with those yellow eyes

thanks sERGIO

Hi, Peter,
Yes, I like this Great Grey Owl. Excellent foreground. Right focus. TFS.
Best regards,

Hello Peter, an expertly taken portrait shot of this owl. Great details and composition.
TFS and regards,

Ciao Peter, fantastic portrait of wonderful owl, great colors, superb details and splendid sharpness, very well done my friend, have a good week end, ciao Silvio

F/4 worked very well to bring just the face in here.
Fine details, those eyes are clear & sharp Peter.
Did a quick WS.
Have a great weekend!

  • Great 
  • vanda Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 338 W: 25 N: 754] (3673)
  • [2010-08-27 9:50]

Hi Peter!
Impressive close-up of this beautiful grey owl!
Details of the plumage are superb.
Excellent contrast against the blurred BG.
Very well done.
Ciao! Vanda

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2010-08-27 9:55]

Hello Peter,
This is a fantastic close-up of the Great Grey Owl. The details of the face and its disc shape, the eyes and beak are shown with excellent sharpness and colours. I have seen this species several times in my country but never got so close!
Thanks and have a good weekend,

  • Great 
  • Heaven Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 996 W: 123 N: 2341] (7912)
  • [2010-08-27 13:30]

Dear Peter!

The portrait you present us here again is of very high quality. It's nothing but pleasure to look at it and to get impregnated of the Great Grey Owl's beauty. The bird's pose and especially the view are amazing and impressive. I also find your notes very interesting to read.

Kind regards


Hi Peter,
Fantastic portrait of the Great Grey, beautiful eye contact, and the whole pic was done on a very high technical standard. Even Howard (marhowie) is right about the blown out patches, this is a photo not to be missed. Exceptional capture. Bravo MF, and of course tfs.
Friendly regards, László

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2010-08-28 4:42]

Hello Peter,
What a funny beauty!! This Great Grey Owl has something of an old bizarre lady. I just love the attitude you caught. Very well presented bird-portrait with good sharpness and a fine colored background.
Thanks also for the interesting note.
Kind regards

Ha Peter,

Prachtig portret van deze Lapland uil
Kleuren, details en scherpte zijn Fantastisch

TFS Thijs

Excelente acercamiento de un gran impacto visual.
Abrazo Peter.

hello Peter

a great and very beautiful portrait photo of this Owl,
shot with very fine POV and the way the bird's head
it is framed on the image, beautiful luminosity,
superb focus sharpness and details, TFS


  • Great 
  • foozi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2791 W: 0 N: 6696] (25839)
  • [2010-09-20 23:22]

Hello Peter,
very beautiful capture portrait of the owl. The eyes are very attractive and captivating. how i like the smooth and softness of the feathers. you have captured it wonderfully in excellent blurry background. i like the colour contrast too.


Hi Peter,
Excellent mugshot at this owl.
The facial details are impressive especially the eyes and beak.
Very well defined details and nicely framed shot.
Thanks and kind regards,

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