Date: 3/1/17 7:23 pm From: Robert O'Connell <flashart123...> Subject: [Maine-birds] Great Gray Owl Thoughts
I have to admit, what love about these debates is it makes me want to understand the birds more, so I dig. Like many of you, I am a birder, and like some of you, it is not my life calling (oh but if I had it to live over again.) My understanding comes from my limited experiences and grows as I am fortunate enough to have more. My list of meaningful interactions with this species consists of basically 45 minutes the other day. I am much more experienced with empty fields than with this bird. So I will let wiser people than me confirm any of this information, but in the limited research I have done of this species, I have turned up a few papers that discuss this topic that I thought I would share. By the way it is amazing what you can find with Google Scholar <https://scholar.google.com/> and raging insomnia. My soundtrack tonight just happens to be 2 Barred Owls conversing which only adds to the fun.
Great gray owls prefer to hunt in relatively open country where scattered trees or forest margins provide for suitable vantage points for visual searching. Winter (1987) found that about 90 percent of monitored birds' time was spent within 124 meters of an open meadow. In the winter the birds hunt primarily in early morning and again from late afternoon to dusk, with little or no nocturnal activity,judging from Brenton and Pittaway's (1971) observations. Oeming (1955) also reported that, prior to the nesting season, most hunting is done in late afternoon, but while feeding young both daytime and nocturnal hunting may be done. Similar observations during winter in Finland suggest that the birds prefer to hunt at dusk, but modify their crepuscular tendencies to include daytime during midwinter, when the day is very short, and especially during dull, overcast days. On the other hand, during the short nights of summer at high latitudes the birds concentrate their foraging around midnight, although the great need for food during the nestling period may force the male to be active throughout the daylight hours (Mikkola, 1983)
There are factors in these studies that refer to the height and distance from targets as well as so much more. It is worth a look if you are interested in rounding out your visit to this marvelous bird with some good reading material.