Bird of the Bible – Great Grey Owl

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8 KJV)

This video is great. If you do not chuckle, then you should.

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22 KJV)

“The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan,” (Deuteronomy 14:16 KJV)

This Great Grey Owl is a “great owl” for sure. Love those eyes. “The Great Grey Owl or Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa) is a very large owl, documented as the world’s largest species of owl by length. It is distributed across the Northern Hemisphere, and it is the only species in the Strix genus found in both Eastern and Western Hemispheres. In some areas it is also called Phantom of the North, cinereous owl, spectral owl, Lapland owl, spruce owl, bearded owl, and sooty owl.’

“Adults have a large rounded head with a grey face and yellow eyes with darker circles around them. The underparts are light with dark streaks; the upper parts are grey with pale bars. This owl does not have ear tufts and has the largest facial disc of any raptor. There is a white collar or “bow tie” just below the beak. The long tail tapers to a rounded end.”

Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa) WikiC

Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa) WikiC

“In terms of length, the great grey owl is believed to exceed the Eurasian eagle-owl and the Blakiston’s fish owl as the world’s largest owl. The great grey is outweighed by those two species as well as several others, including most of the Bubo genus. Much of its size is deceptive, since this species’ fluffy feathers, large head and the longest tail of any extant owl obscure a body lighter than that of most other large owls. The length ranges from 61 to 84 cm (24 to 33 in), averaging 72 cm (28 in) for females and 67 cm (26 in) for males. The wingspan can exceed 152 cm (5 ft 0 in), but averages 142 cm (4 ft 8 in) for females and 140 cm (4 ft 7 in) for males. The adult weight ranges from 580 to 1,900 g (1.28 to 4.19 lb), averaging 1,290 g (2.84 lb) for females and 1,000 g (2.2 lb) for males. The males are usually smaller than females, as with most owl species.”

“They breed in North America from as far east as Quebec to the Pacific coast and Alaska, and from Finland and Estonia across northern Asia. They are permanent residents, although northerly populations may move south and southeast when food is scarce. In Europe, they are found breeding in Norway and Sweden and more numerously through Finland and Russia. Even though the species occurs in Europe, the first great grey owl recognized by science was found in Canada in the late 18th century.”

Information from Wikipedia with editing. See more about them: Great Grey Owl – Wikipedia

The Video was from Paul Dinning Wildlife.

The Owl is a bird that is mentioned in the Bible 10 times. [Leviticus 11:16, 17; Deuteronomy 14:15, 16; Psalm 102:6; Isaiah 34:11, 14, 15]




Ian’s Bird of the Moment – Eastern Grass Owl

Seeing as Bird of the Moment has been such a rarity lately, I thought I’d finish the year on a special note. So here’s a species that I always wanted to photograph, but never thought I would: maybe on the ‘if the god(s) is/are kind bucket list’.

But before that here is my greetings of the season; too late for Christmas but in time for 2018, which is perhaps the more important – longer anyway.

Two weeks ago I went spotlighting in the Townsville Town Common Conservation Park with some local birding experts, including one who has an official key to the locked gates that normally keep vehicles out of the more remote areas of the Park: the saline flats near Bald Rock and a track that runs through some lovely forest along a tributary of the Bohle River to Shelley Beach.

The target species, and rather a long shot at that, was the Spotted Nightjar which sometimes turns up along the grassy, saline flats. Anyway, the forest produced five Owlet Nightjars, some of which posed for photos and a Tawny Frogmouth, also photographed. On the return through the normally accessible parts of the Park along the main track, we photographed a cooperative Large-tailed NIghtjar and a more distant Barking Owl

The highlight of the night was a Tyto owl on the grass beside the track though the saline flat. Provisionally identified as a Barn Owl, we soon realised that it was a female Eastern Grass Owl, a species recorded only occasionally around Townsville, though more common near Ingham, for example at the eponymous Tyto Wetlands. The female differs from the smaller male in having orange-buff underparts and is distinctive but both genders can be distinguished from the otherwise similar Barn Owl by darker upperparts and much longer, slender legs which trail behind the tail in flight. After photographing it, we flushed it to get a look at its long legs and confirm the identification.

We didn’t find any Spotted Nightjars, but no one cared amid the jubilation at getting such good view of the Grass Owl. We returned a week later for another look. That night, the Tawny Frogmouths were out in force and no sign of either Spotted Nightjars or the Grass Owl. Instead we found a cooperative Barn Owl along perched obligingly in a dead tree in woodland beside the main track. Here it is for comparison.

Grass and Barn Owls have extensive ranges and the ‘Eastern’ in both cases refers to Eastern Eurasia and Australasia. Grass Owls also occur in Africa and there is disagreement whether this is is the same species as the Eastern Form. Similarly, the Eastern Barn Owl, Tyto delicatula, is sometimes split from the Western Eurasian, African and American forms, Tyto alba. Anyway, they’re all gorgeous birds and Australia has an unusually rich selection of five species of about sixteen in total worldwide. Four of the Australian ones are here

We’ve checked earlier records and it appears that most records of Spotted Nightjars in the Townsville District are in winter, June-August. So, we’ll try again next year, and I hope you have a healthy and rewarding 2018 too.Ian

Lee’s Addition:

“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.” (Proverbs 9:9-11 KJV)

>Ian, I believe the Creator of this beautiful Eastern Grass Owl has been very kind to your “Bucket List.” Over the years, you have seen and photographed numerous Avian Wonders that you have graciously shared with us.

May your New Year be a great one and, hopefully, your Birds of the Moment/Week articles might come more frequently again.

Ian’s Bird of the Week/Moment

Birds of the Bible – Snowy Owl in Florida

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) by Raymond Barlow

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) by Raymond Barlow (Not the one being seen)

the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after its kind; the little owl, the fisher owl, and the screech owl; the white owl, the jackdaw, and the carrion vulture;
(Leviticus 11:16-18 NKJV)

And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind, And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl, (Leviticus 11:16-17 KJV)

Florida birdwatchers are pleased to have an odd appearance of a Snowy Owl. She is a young owl, but she has quite a following down here. What makes this so unusual is that she is way out of the normal winter grounds for these birds. This is only the third observation of the Snowy Owl in Florida. We are known for our “Snowbirds,” but the Snowy Owl definitely qualifies as a “Snowbird.”

This bird has made a temporary home at the Little Talbot Island State Park. Not sure how the bird has any privacy. Birdwatchers from all around are making trips to Duval County, where Jacksonville is located. She was still there as of yesterday, Jan 5, 2014.

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) Female in Florida 2013-2014 ©©minds-eye

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) Female in Florida 2013-2014 ©©minds-eye

Snowy Owl (bubo scandiacus) are members of the Strigidae – Owl Family. They are the largest North American Owl. Owls are a Bird of the Bible and depending on which version you use, Owls are mentioned in 14 verses in the KJV, but a “Snowy Owl” is not mentioned, but the “great” and “white” owls are mentioned. What a lovely creation from our Lord.

This yellow-eyed, black-beaked white bird is easily recognizable. It is 52–71 cm (20–28 in) long, with a 125–150 cm (49–59 in) wingspan. Also, these birds can weigh anywhere from 1.6 to 3 kg (3.5 to 6.6 lb).[3] It is one of the largest species of owl and, in North America, is on average the heaviest owl species. The adult male is virtually pure white, but females and young birds have some dark scalloping; the young are heavily barred, and dark spotting may even predominate. Its thick plumage, heavily feathered taloned feet, and colouration render the Snowy Owl well-adapted for life north of the Arctic Circle.

Snowy Owl calls are varied, but the alarm call is a barking, almost quacking krek-krek; the female also has a softer mewling pyee-pyee or prek-prek. The song is a deep repeated gahw. They may also clap their beak in response to threats or annoyances. While called clapping, it is believed this sound may actually be a clicking of the tongue, not the beak.

This powerful bird relies primarily on lemmings and other small rodents for food during the breeding season, but at times of low prey density, or during the ptarmigan nesting period, they may switch to favoring juvenile ptarmigan. They are opportunistic hunters and prey species may vary considerably, especially in winter. They feed on a wide variety of small mammals such as meadow voles and deer mice, but will take advantage of larger prey, frequently following traplines to find food. Some of the larger mammal prey includes hares, muskrats, marmots, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, prairie dogs, rats, moles, smaller birds, entrapped furbearers. Birds preyed upon include ptarmigan, other ducks, geese, shorebirds, pheasants, grouse, coots, grebes, gulls, songbirds, and even other raptors, including other owl species. Most of the owls’ hunting is done in the “sit and wait” style; prey may be captured on the ground or in the air, or fish may be snatched off the surface of bodies of water using their sharp talons. Each bird must capture roughly 7 to 12 mice per day to meet its food requirement and can eat more than 1,600 lemmings per year.

Snowy Owls, like many other birds, swallow their small prey whole. Strong stomach juices digest the flesh, while the indigestible bones, teeth, fur, and feathers are compacted into oval pellets that the bird regurgitates 18 to 24 hours after feeding. Regurgitation often takes place at regular perches, where dozens of pellets may be found. Biologists frequently examine these pellets to determine the quantity and types of prey the birds have eaten. When large prey are eaten in small pieces, pellets will not be produced. (Wikipedia)

Here are some of the links to articles:


Ian’s Bird of the Week – Powerful Owl

Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) by Ian 1

Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) by Ian 1

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Powerful Owl  ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 12/9/2012

My apologies again for a tardy bird of the week, so here is something special. Well, special for me, anyway, as it has been a serious bogey bird for me. All addicted birders and bird photographers have their bogeys, in the sense of ‘an evil or mischievous spirit, a cause of annoyance or harassment’ usually a species that is invisible to the victim or hides whenever the victim is around.

Powerful Owls first cast an evil spell on me on 11 February 1999 when one in Pennant Hills Park made my film camera malfunction so that the entire film was hopelessly underexposed – you can see the wicked gleam in its eye below. As soon as I picked up the film from the chemist the following day, I went back to Pennant Hills Park but the owl was no longer there or no longer visible.

Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) by Ian 2

Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) by Ian 2

Shortly after that I moved from Sydney and switched to digital photography (nowadays we take instant photographic feedback for granted). Since then, whenever I’ve visited Sydney I’ve looked for Powerful Owls in all their usual haunts – Pennant Hills Park, Mitchell Park, Beecroft, Warriewood, Royal Botanic Gardens, Royal National Park, etc. – without success.

Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) by Ian 3

Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) by Ian 3

Last Tuesday I gave a talk on parrots to Birding NSW in Sydney and inquired about POs. Yes, one had been seen in its favourite tree, the White Fig, near the entrance to Government House the previous Saturday. I went there on Wednesday and searched the tree for at least 20 minutes but the owl remained invisible until I decided to leave. Delighted with its success, it let its guard down, the spell weakened and I got the briefest visual sensation, like a shimmering mirage, of a barred tail. Powerful Owls are big 60-65cm/24-26in in length, it was then quite visible from the ground and not very high up, so a spell is the only explanation.

Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) by Ian 4

Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) by Ian 4

The next day, I went birding with Madeleine Murray and we abandoned plans to look for the owl (they’re quite visible to her) and went instead to Port Hacking, south of Sydney, where, lo and behold, we found another one, or to be more accurate Mad found it after I’d walked straight past it as the spell hadn’t entirely dissipated – it normally does so quite quickly after it has been broken once.

Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) by Ian 5

Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) by Ian 5

The Powerful Owl is the largest of the Hawk Owls (genus Ninox) and exceeded in size only by the world’s largest owls such as the Grey Grey and the larger Eagle Owls. It is found in eastern and southeastern Australia usually within 200km of the coast from central Queensland to eastern South Australia. It has large territories ranging in size from 3-15 square kilometres so it is nowhere common and is listed as Vulnerable. However, it seems to be quite tolerant of selective logging and can survive in patchy forests. It feeds mainly on arboreal mammals such as possums, but will also take flying foxes (fruit bats) and roosting birds.

Best wishes

Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737
Check the latest website updates:
Lee’s Addition:

Glad you sent us a Bird of the Week, Ian. I was starting to worry about you, that maybe you were sick or something. The wait was worth it because this is a beautiful Owl. I am glad you are no longer under this bird’s “evil spell on” you.

The Powerful Owl is part of the Strigidae – Owl Family. To see more photos of them, check out Ian’s photos and our Family page here:

Typical or Hawk Owls – Ian’s Birdway

Strigidae – Owl Family