Great Gray Owl In Flight

Great Gray Owl In Flight

Recently I posted an image of a Great Gray Owl that showed up in Kingsville Ontario (on the shores of Lake Erie between Point Peele and Windsor) which is very unusual.  The Great Gray Owl is a northern bird and although common in Northern Ontario they are rarely seen south of Timmins.  This particular owl arrived in Kingsville before Christmas and was seen almost daily until a couple of weeks ago so perhaps it has started to head back north.  It was certainly a local celebrity and even made the front page of the Sunday edition of the Toronto Star

The Great Gray Owl is North America’s largest owl with a length of almost three feet and wing span of five feet.  It is a beautiful collection of gray, brown and white colours with a large and interesting head which lacks ear tuffs, has brilliant yellow eyes that are relatively small compared to the other owls and sports a white moustache.  Although the Great Gray is the largest owl, it is not the heaviest.  The Great Horned Owl enjoys that distinction.  Owls are raptors and the Great Gray Owl’s diet consists primarily of Ptarmigan in the north, however when poor food supply in the north forces the owls into more southern areas they feed primarily on voles, mice and perhaps chipmunks or squirrels.

I was fortunate to be able to take some flight shots of the Great Gray Owl.  This first image was taken when the owl launched while I was photographing with a 500mm lens from a distance too close to keep the wings in the frame.  Although clipping the wings in flight shots is a bit of a “no no” the intensity of the eyes in this shot was enough that I just couldn’t delete the image.

Great Gray Owl-02

The next two images were taken with a 70-200 f/2.8 L IS zoom lens which is a fairly fast focussing lens needed to track birds while flying.  It’s an amazing technology that allows the camera to “lock on” to a moving object and continually keep it in focus while taking about ten frames per second.  In these images you can easily see the intensity of the eyes as they lock on to the prey.

Great Gray Owl-03


Great Gray Owl-04

The face of an owl is rarely seen as we don’t often get a chance to be close enough to witness the amazing details it contains.  This close up portrait was taken with a 700mm focal length lens from about thirty feet away from the owl.

Great Gray Owl-05

And finally a portrait showing the Owl in its more natural habitat, the snowy winter climate of the Canadian North…..I just wish the flakes were a little larger, but it only snowed for about five minutes over the course of the day I was there.

Great Gray Owl-06

I trust you enjoyed these images of the Great Gray Owl and if ever you hear about one in your area make sure make an effort to get out and see it.  You will be glad you did!  To see more owl images please click here to visit my gallery.

Please feel free to leave comments or ask any photography questions you may have regarding the posted images.  I would be honoured to hear from you and answer your questions.


  1. These are outstanding images Scott, as good as any I have ever seen including several boards that you frequent (and I lurk on). Keep these precious memories, methinks the opportunity for me have come and gone at least for this year.