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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Friday, February 24, 2017

"The Great Gray Owl is the tallest American owl with the largest wingspan"................ "It preys on small mammals, especially rodents"............... "Both the Great Horned and Snowy owls weigh half again as much, and have larger feet and talons"......................."The Great Gray Olw nests in broken-topped dead trees or steals the nest of other bird species"................"Like many birds, new born hatchlings are born with eyes closed and covered in gray and white down"............."These Owls locate mice below snow by hearing, then plunges down through surface to capture them".................."While Great Gray Owl are negatively affected by logging and clearcutting, there is little information regarding their population trends"...... "Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 190,000 birds with 43% living in Canada, and 7% in the U.S."............ "The species rates an 11 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, and is not on the 2016 State of the Birds Watch List"


Great Gray Owls in Northern New York

2017 Great Gray Owl Larry Master PhotoIn most winters great gray owls remain in their great north woods home in Canada, the mountains of the western U.S., northern Europe, and Siberia. But every four years or so, apparently motivated by a shortage of food (primarily voles), many of these owls will move southward in search of food.
In northeastern North America, the owls usually stay just north of the border, apparently finding suitable vole populations in southern Quebec and Ontario, but a handful of individuals will sometimes move further south into northern New York and New England. This is one such winter with a number of great gray owls being reported in southern Quebec, two reports from central Maine, and reports of several great gray owls in northern New York.

Habitat range of the

Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa)

Most recently, 2-3 great gray owls have taken up temporary residence along Robinson Bay Road in Robert Moses State Park near Massena. As is characteristic of great gray owls, they go about their business with no concern for people or automobiles. This can get them into trouble, but happily for them the road is lightly traveled.

Great Gray Owl weighs twice as much as the Great Horned and Snowy Owls(below)

Great Horned Owl

Snowy Owl

Apparently their lack of fear for people derives from not encountering people, at least folks who would do their harm, in their normal north woods habitat. Such tameness allows for wonderful viewing opportunities as the birds go about their hunting activities during daylight hours oblivious to bird and nature enthusiasts who have come from surrounding states and provinces to see these magnificent birds. They are most active in the first hours after dawn and the last hours before sunset.

Photo of Great Gray Owl by Larry Master.

Larry Master lives in Keene and has been photographing wildlife and natural history subjects for more than 60 years. After receiving a PhD at the University of Michigan, Larry spent 20 years with The Nature Conservancy and 6 years with NatureServe, most of that time as the organization’s Chief Zoologist. He oversaw the development of TNC’s and NatureServe’s central zoological databases, and also served on the EPA’s Science Advisory Board. Larry currently serves on the boards of NatureServe, the Ausable River Association, the Adirondack Explorer, the Northern Forest Atlas Foundation, Northern New York Audubon, and the Adirondack Council, as well as on science advisory groups for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Adirondack Program, the Biodiversity Research Institute’s Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, and Living with Wolves

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