Great Gray Owl with Pocket Gopher
$100.00 – $1,500.00
Yellowstone is the southernmost point in the Rocky Mountains where great gray owls live. They are the largest owls and are most common in the northern boreal forest, living in the woods next to open meadows. They roost and nest in heavy timber and hunt in the grassy areas nearby. Like all owls, they fly silently, but what is amazing to me is how easily they fly through heavy timber with a wing span of up to 52 inches. I have never seen them even break a small twig as they swoop through the trees. They hunt primarily by sound. This great gray had caught a pocket gopher in the grass, flown about 300 yards into an area recently burned by the fires of 1988, and landed with her meal on the end of a large charred fallen tree. I set up my tripod and long lens beyond the other end of the tree. During the 10 minutes I photographed her, she stood with the dead gopher clutched in her feet. She looked up in the sky at a raven, tipped her head down slightly and closed her eyes for a half minute as if she were sleepy, and quietly looked off in different directions. Something made a sharp sound behind me; she thought it was me making a move to steal her gopher. She bent down towards me, flared out her feathers and seemed to say “Don’t touch my gopher.” She then picked it up and flew silently away.