Great Gray Owl

Strix nebulosa

NH Conservation Status: Not listed


State Rank Status: No data for NH. Occasional visitor approximately once every 3-5 years. Population trend unknown.


Distribution: Very rare & irregular winter visitor in NH. Major flight occurred during the winter of 1978-1979 when 92 great gray owls were recorded from New Brunswick, New England, and New York.


Description: Up to 33” long and up to 60” wingspan. Largest owl in North America. Gray overall body color with dark facial rings, small yellow eyes and a black and white bowtie under the face.


Voice: Series of deep, evenly spaced “whoos”.


Commonly Confused Species: Barred owls are much smaller in size and lack the distinctive white bowtie marking under the face.


Habitat: Small woodlands near large, open, wet fields. Northern coniferous forests with open bogs and muskegs.


Nesting: Limited information available. Nests in broken tree tops or nests made by other species. Hatchlings are born helpless and covered in gray-white down.


Diet: Small mammals; primarily rodents.