My first Great Gray Owls (#993)

Jan 28, 2013 | Birding

Last weekend, Tina and I spent a couple of days in Duluth to celebrate our anniversary. As part of the stay, I went to visit the Sax Zim bog for a day of winter birding.  I have really had my heart set on finally seeing a Great Gray Owl and decided to hire a guide to help in my quest.  Early Saturday morning, I picked up my friend Erik Bruhnke of Naturally Avian and we headed north.

In the winter months, logging companies can log in Sax Zim due to the fact that the ground is frozen.  This meant that logging trucks are driving in the area making it less likely that owls will be seen along the back roads.  Erick suggested that we park and hike a bit to increase our chances of finding the bird.  We left the car at 8:00 am with an outside temp of –16 and hiked about 1/2 mile.  After 15-20 minutes, Erik briefly spotted an owl in the distance and we slowly approached a clear cut area watching the horizon for movement.  We were then presented with not one but two Great Gray Owls actively hunting the area.  As the sun peaked out of the clouds, all thoughts of the cold were forgotten and the area was lit with a beautiful bronze color.  For 30 minutes, we watched the two large birds make repeated attempts at finding breakfast in the snow and return to their tree top look out posts.

Due to the cold and darkness when we began our hike, I had left my camera in the car and simply enjoyed the moment through my binoculars.  As much as I would love an image of my first Great Gray, spending time just watching them through the binos was a special treat.  Thank you Erik for a truly special morning and experience.

Here is an image from Erik’s collection:  Visit his website and Facebook page for more.

Great Gray

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Vadnais Heights, MN 55127