Posted by: atowhee | September 2, 2016


Birder Lee French and bird photographer Mel Clements (who took many of these images recently) are developing a theory that facial feathers may indicate a GGO’s age. They posit that the adult birds have much more feathering around the beak, the first year birds (born just three or four months ago) still have little feathering around the beak.  Take a look for yourself.

First two pictures that I have cropped so the face is larger in the frame:ggo-cu2 GGOupclose090116 004_edited-1 (1280x853) 090116 001_edited-1 (1280x853) 090116 001_edited-1 IMG_8882 Great Grey Owl 8-27-2016 Keno Access Road_resized IMG_8877 Great Grey Owl 8-27-2016 Keno Access Road  MEL GGO-AUG29Compare beak area in these two photos.179A7279 179A7186 179A7151 0L5A6946 0L5A6926I took none of these pohotos and credited their photographers in recent, previous blogs.

I know from personal observation that first-year GGOs do have shorter tails than their father until well into fall because they often follow him around and perch nearby while he hunts for their meals.  That makes comparisons fairly obvious and direct.

In our book on GGOs, Peter Thiemann and I included a photo on page 114 of an owl we identified as a first-tear bird.  The feathers around this bird’s beak extend down onto its shaft.  Like to hear any comments.  There is no mention of facial plumage in the Birds of North America online account, not any mention in my shelf of field guides.



  1. Mel and this owl have a “thing” going on! Wonderful!

    m a

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