our animals

Great Grey Owl

Strix nebulosa

This species is also known as the Great Grey Ghost or Phantom of the North and is the provincial bird emblem of Manitoba, an area in Canada.

They do not have ear tufts, but have the largest facial disc of any owl. Although they look large, inside they are no bigger than a Tawny owl, the rest is feathers for insulation. On the top of their heads the feathers can be 100 mm thick.

Their large facial discs, also known as ruffs, focus sound, and the asymmetrical placement of their ears assists them in locating prey, This is important as there is a lack of light during the late and early hours in which they hunt. Their excellent hearing helps them locate and capture prey moving beneath 60cm of snow in a series of tunnels. These owls can crash through snow that could support the weight of an 82kg person.

Great grey owls have a distinctive primary call which is a very soft low-pitched hoot with the notes emitted slowly over a 6 to 8 second period. The call is used as a territorial declaration and can be heard up to half a mile away under good conditions. When threatened they will snap their beaks, spread their wings and growl.

Great Grey Owl

fun facts

Conservation Status:

Least concern


Northern hemisphere


Pine and spruce forrests


Rodents, small birds, small mammals





Incubation period:

28-36 days

Life Span:

13-25 yrs