Birder, Mel Clements, met with a Great Gray Owl in the snowy fields of the southern Cascades east of Ashland this morning. His note:
“Happy Thanksgiving everyone
A very understanding wife let me sneak out of the house early this morning. I made an initial check of the usual meadows without any luck. On my second time around, I stopped at a meadow to sit and check the area with binoculars. I was there about 20 minutes when a Thanksgiving GGO flew into a tree near the meadow.
I had to reposition my vehicle in the snow and then walked back to the meadow. I spotted the GGO just leaving the tree and it flew to a fence post. I started shooting right away. Within five minutes the GGO made its first grounding without success. It repositioned and within another couple of minutes made a successful grounding. Shortly after returning to its perch, it then grounded again and was successful. The GGO flew to a listening post again.
After about six minutes it flew to a listening post within 10 feet of me. During the time It was there, it didn’t look my direction at all. I hadn’t moved and was just watching with my eyes (too close for my camera to focus). A few minutes later it flew to a listening post about 25 feet away. It made a grounding right in front of me again (no success). All this activity provided for some very nice photos – once the clouds settled down and left a somewhat consistent light level.
As it moved away from me, I took the opportunity to sneak away.
It is unlikely your Thanksgiving will be better than mine this year but I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!” Note those feathers covering legs and even talons. Thus is this bird equipped to withstand some of the coldest temperatures on Earth. Plus all that plush plumage helps dampen any hint of sound when this stealth hunter moves through the air.