Earlier I blogged about some Great Gray Owlers’ theory that facial feathers can be used to differentiate first-year from adult GGOs. Now I’ve heard back from Andy Huber who may have as much up-close experience with GGOs as anybody in Oregon. In 2015 he helped a widowed female feed and raise her four fledglings. As surrogate father he was allowed to get quite close and gather many invaluable photos, some of which he shares with us. Here is Andy’s comment on my inquiry on facial feathering:
“Thanks for asking!
My photos show that it is fairly easy to tell the first-year GGO fledglings from the adult female, by the feathers around the beak. But after the first year, I don’t have any photos.
I think a better distinguishing factor, though, are the downy feathers on the lower body of the juveniles. I’ve attached photos to show that too.
1-4, adult female’s face
5-8, juvenile’s face
9-12, juvenile lower body fluffy feathers
13-16, adult female lower body feathers
There were four fledglings, so the photos may be of different individuals.
The photo range of juvenile ages, is approximately from 77 to 88 days after leaving the nest.
Photo #12 is the last date that photos were taken, August 7, 2015, approximately 88 days after leaving the nest. I believe it is of a male, because of the beginnings of white feathers inside and above the eyes.
I believe there were two male and two female fledglings, because of the size and extent of white facial feathers on the individuals at the end of the season.
We haven’t, unfortunately, seen any Great Grays here since spring, but are hoping for next year.
I hope that helps, and thanks again for all you do for the Avians.
Creating my own experience too…in joy!
#9 to 16:
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