Grey Day

The other morning I looked out the kitchen window and spotted a great grey owl sitting in the garden. A not uncommon sight but always a rush.

At first glance, he looks huge. However, thick feathered layers hide a deceptively small body weighing only about a kilo — not much more than a couple of pounds of butter.

I watch him as he hunts from his perch. No sound escapes him. Specialized feathers on the broad circular facial disc catch and focus each incoming sound. A raven overhead. A frog in the grass. Water running in the sink.

Despite their skill, they go hungry on occasion. One summer the rain never stopped. Everything was wet and soggy and miserable. A young, bedraggled grey appeared on our rail fence. To our utter amazement he flew down into the garden to eat worms.

 

While most owls are nocturnal, the great grey prefers hunting at dawn and dusk, its tiny eyes adapted to daylight. On overcast days you might see them any time.

The great grey has a higher tolerance for humans than many wild animals, sometimes to its detriment. Some people use them for target practice, leaving a broken body in the ditch. Just because they can.


Great grey owl   Strix nebulosa

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