Great Gray Owl Snow Impact!

The vole is definitely dead. It is hard to imagine what it must be like for the vole to suddenly have two huge talons punch through the crusted snow. Death! Mother nature is cruel. (Great Gray Owls can actually hear voles running beneath the snow. They hunt by listening for the sound of voles)

I watched this Great Gray Owl hunt late this morning in the Bog. After it successfully consumed a late breakfast, I walked back to the car and changed lenses such that I might photograph the owl impact point on the snow. Although words do not do it justice, there was two inches of fresh snow, an inch of crust, and 3 to 4 inches of snow beneath the crust. The other photographs were taken of the same exact hunt.

Great Gray Owl Snow Impact

Success! (the owl has a vole in its talons)

Plunge Now! (micro-seconds before the owl plunged its head into the snow to transfer the vole from its talons to its beak)

Breakfast Anyone?


Yes, there are other birds in Sax-Zim Bog. I can always find these wild turkeys on cold days. They hang out 300 yards south of the intersection of Arkola and Overton. The depression keeps them warm in the sun and out of the wind. In a few weeks the males will start to strut their stuff for the females shortly after dawn.

I found this Northern Hawk Owl hunting out in the open in Nichols Lake Road, but given the wind and below zero temps, I did not stay long.

3 thoughts on “Great Gray Owl Snow Impact!

  1. thanks for fabulous an avid birder who doesnt get out much in this weather…but I sincerely appreciate what you share..recently got to watch a great gray on Homestead Rd..didnt see it get a vole though which Id love to see….Im so pleased to have been added to this email list..Is there a decline in the number of owls seen this winter?? Is this related to poor hunting conditions in Canada or would we still be seeing these owls??

    1. Actually the exact opposite is occuring this winter, a fairly dramatic increase in the number of owls being seen in NE Minnesota. The numbers of Great Gray Owls, Snowies, Northern Hawk Owls and even Boreals is quite impressive this winter. If you want to see a few more owls, make certain to g out right at sunrise or sunset on windless days. They are definitely around.

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