Posted by: atowhee | February 14, 2023


There are two emotional varieties of Great Gray Owl possible in North America. There are those you can see in the wild. Fuzzy pale fledglings on a branch, fussing for food. A care-giving mother at nest or near her owlets. A hunting adult, carefully watching and listening at a meadow’s edge. A hunting adult, coursing silently over the grassy meadow, the suddenly dropping onto prey. The mated male carrying a vole in his beak to present to his mate, she in turn to feed an owlet. GGO protocol–prey eaten head first, whole and not shredded.

The second kind is a GGO n captivity. The glory of wildness and eons of survival charisma is gone. But there is another wonder at being near such a being. Perchance to touch, certainly to realize the delicate but strong creature glancing at your gaping face and then turning to something more relevant, a mouse perhaps or some distant bird call.

There once was a Great Gray Owl named Shadow. She lived for nearly two decades at the Lindsay Museum in Walnut Creek. I got to meet her twice. She managed to not go to sleep and fall from her perch as I gave a talk about her kind 5 years ago–click here. Later, I sadly had to post an obituary. When I first met her she was the only known captive GGO in California. Wild ones in that state are on the endangered species list, maybe numbering a few hundred birds.

Click here to read how one writer first meets a Great Gray Owl:

All the above pictures were taken by Marty Karlin down in Jackson County where he lives. I am organizing a GGO expedition for this spring:
Great Gray Owl trip is set for June 13-16.
We will meet for an outside dinner the night of June 13 in Ashland.  Bird all day June 14, 15.  Then bird morning of the 16th, done by noon if you want to schedule a matinee at the Shakespeare Festival.  Each participant is responsible for meals and housing.  We will meet around dawn on 14th and 15th.  If we find the Great Gray Owls in the morning we will not stay out until dark.  Lunches both days will be portable, not in café. 

Other species we should see: nesting Sandhill Cranes, White-headed and Pileated Woodpecker, Vesper Sparrow, Green-tailed Towhee, dipper, Mountain Bluebird and Chickadee, MacGillivray’s, Nashville and Hermit Warbler.  Birds possible: goshawk, Mountain Quail, Ruffed and Sooty Grouse, pygmy-owl, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Cassin’s Finch.

Contact: Harry Fuller


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