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Great Gray Owl in the Moonlight

We had heard that there was a family of Great Gray Owls in Yellowstone NP, so we looked for them for hours. Nothing. Then, on impulse when it was already getting dark, we went back into the trees. And finally, amazingly, we saw one flying towards us, completely silent, a large beautiful ghostly owl… and then it was gone. No chance for a pic. We looked everywhere and found it again, but it kept flying away from us, landing, and flying again, but would not turn its head even once. “It’s getting too dark, so you win”, we said and turned back, and there we saw the moon, and below on a branch, sat a Great Gray!

In the stillness of a mountain meadow the elusive giant quietly floats on broad wings across meadows and openings in evergreen forests. Although the majestic Great Gray Owl is one of the tallest owls in the U.S., it’s just a ball of feathers — both the Great Horned Owl and Snowy Owl weigh more, and they have larger feet and talons. The Great Gray Owl is distributed across the Northern Hemisphere, and is the only species in the genus Strix found in both Eastern and Western Hemispheres. Great Gray Owls mostly live in the boreal forest with small populations in western mountains, but in some years they move farther south in search of food, giving some a unique opportunity to see this majestic owl.

Photo taken on September 28, 2020, in Yellowstone National Park

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