Phantom of the North: the Elusive Great Gray Owl

Not only are Great Gray Owls the largest owl in North America with the largest wingspan, their stature and countenance spark a sense of wonder. With alternate names such as “Great Grey Ghost” and “Phantom of the North,” they inspire awe and pique our curiosity. From unique adaptations for locating prey, to behaviors for defending their nests, to strategies for successful breeding, these masters of silent flight capture our interest.

Matt Marsh, Wildlife Biologist with the US Forest Service, provided an excellent presentation on Great Gray Owls on November 7, 2014.

You can watch the presentation on YouTube using the links on this page. Or, you can listen to selected audio clips below. OHA thanks Deb Vester for making the video recording and processing the video.

Watch this presentation on YouTube:
Great Gray Owl Facts
Range and ID
Nesting Part 1
Lee Johnson – Observations
Vocalizing & Nesting Part 2
Nesting Part 3
Foraging and Prey
Competitors
Questions Part 1
Questions Part 2


Todd Thorn wrote a poem about a Great Gray Owl search, and Julie Vanderwal put the poem to music.

“These owls are elusive but once you see your first, you’ll never forget the experience,” said speaker Matt. “I hope to share my knowledge and experiences with others who are curious about this incredible owl that hunts and breeds in our forests and grasslands, and also to learn from residents who live with them on their property.”

Audio Clips – Listen to excerpts from the presentation:

Matt Marsh is a Wildlife Biologist with the Tonasket Ranger District. He is responsible for managing the National Forest lands in the Okanogan Highlands for a variety of species, which includes the Great Gray Owl. Every year the Forest Service surveys for Great Gray Owls around restoration projects to see where they are nesting and foraging. Managing the owl’s very specific habitat is important because the Okanogan Highlands has one of the largest populations in Washington State. The Highlands area provides the unique habitat of forest cover, intermixed with open meadows, that Great Gray Owls call home.

Matt has worked as a wildlife biologist for 8 years, after working as a forester and firefighter in the area. Growing up in the Okanogan Valley, Matt has firsthand knowledge of where to find these charismatic owls and has spent many nights and early mornings out searching the forests for their presence.

Thank you, Matt, for a fascinating presentation on Great Gray Owls! We appreciate you sharing your expertise with the community.

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