Author Topic: Yosemite Great Grey Owl  (Read 47 times)

ergophobe

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Yosemite Great Grey Owl
« on: October 02, 2018, 03:59:48 PM »
I saw one! Up close even.

The huge Yosemite Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa Yosemitensis) is a California Endangered Species and the ones in Yosemite are generally recognized as a distinct subspecies. Yosemite is home to almost the entire population, but they are elusive.

Last night while out for a run, I flushed one from the grass from about five feet away. It went up to a branch about 10 feet away and looked injured because it was having trouble staying on the branch and its wings were in a funny position. I assumed that's why this normally elusive bird let me get so close.

I stopped to observe a bit to see if I should report it to the park ornithologist and then it flew across the trail to a tree about 20 feet from me and almost at me feet, about 5 feet away (and the bird was only about 8 feet up, so literally flew by me 10-12 feet away), something plopped to the ground and scurried away. A little mole it had captured. That's why it let me get so close. It was trying to wrestle its dinner into submission.

It stopped at a tree 20 feet away and just stared at me as I walked by, following me every step.

I would say this one was not full size. They grow to be two feet tall when perched and have a 5-foot wingspan. I think this guy was slightly smaller than that - maybe 20" with a 4-foot wing span. Still, from as close as I was, it was huge. Aside from in a cage at a raptor center, I've never seen a big bird that close up and I've been trying to see one of these guys since 2010 when they got a lot of publicity when, based on genetic analysis, they decided it was a unique subspecies.

https://www.nps.gov/yose/learn/nature/great-gray-owl.htm

littleman

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Re: Yosemite Great Grey Owl
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2018, 05:32:17 PM »
That's really cool!

>It stopped at a tree 20 feet away and just stared at me as I walked by, following me every step.

Caution, but he was probably also pissed that he lost that meal.

ergophobe

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Re: Yosemite Great Grey Owl
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2018, 06:07:48 PM »
Ha ha! Yes, I was going to say he "glowered" at me, but didn't want to impute too much to his dour face.

The funny thing is that I've taken binoculars to the same meadow in hopes of seeing one and never have. And this guy was so close, I couldn't have used binoculars.

They keep these locations secret because, apparently, when their hunting is interrupted, it takes them a couple of hours to calm down and get back to it. So I felt kind of bad about spooking it. Bad day for the owl. Peak nature experience for me.