Guardian Nature School Team Contact Blog Project Noah Facebook Project Noah Twitter

A worldwide community photographing and learning about wildlife

Join Project Noah!
nature school apple icon

Project Noah Nature School visit nature school

Great Gray Owl

Strix nebulosa


The Great Gray Owl is a very large owl, in appearance it is the largest Owl in North America. It has a round head without ear tufts, black and white "bowtie" under face and yellow eyes. Although in appearance it is larger then a Snowy Owl or a Great Horned Owl, it weighs quite a bit less then both these owls. This owl actually has a very small frame, and is covered with a massive amount of feathers.


This bird should be somewhere in the Boreal forests of northern Canada. He is however spending some time in a very populated town near Madison, Wisconsin.


This bird, has been attracting a lot of attention, as few people ever get to see an owl in the wild. People are coming from great distances to see, and watch this huge owl. Many people who would otherwise not even think twice about wildlife around them, seem to be quite taken by this bird. Many young children are getting to see this bird, and I have been told that several day care facilities near where this bird is being seen, have actually taken their young charges to see this bird. This bird has been seen since March 21st when a worker at a local establishment saw it sitting on a post and clicked a photograph of it and posted it to the business facebook page. He had no idea how rare this bird is for the location it is in. Since that time, hundreds if not thousands of people have flocked to see this owl. For many it very well could be the only owl they ever see in the wild in their life time. This bird is so unafraid of people that it spends most of its time in and around a bar, and apartment complex, it spent a day on a light fixture near the main entrance of a local restaurant, and even landed on the pole of a basketball hoop while 4 boys were having a basketball game.

Species ID Suggestions

Sign in to suggest organism ID

73 Comments (1–25)

williefromwi 8 years ago

Thanks, Desmond.E.S.O

Desmond.E.S.O 8 years ago

Me too! They're Awesome birds!

JoshuaGSmith 9 years ago

It's the least I could do. This is definitely one of my top targets in North America!

williefromwi 9 years ago

Thank you so much for the kind words on my captures of this Great Gray. I am deeply honored that you would take the time to do so, Bhagya Herath, Jim Nelson, and JoshuaGSmith.

JoshuaGSmith 9 years ago

Incredible photos! I love the eyes.

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 9 years ago

I love owls...and would have traveled some distance to see it myself. I am going to have to make do with your photos, which by the way are very good!

Bhagya Herath
Bhagya Herath 9 years ago

out of words now....Great captures of the most beautiful birds in the world....

williefromwi 10 years ago

That look! I have heard that comment a lot from this capture. It is one of my favorite Great Gray Owl captures I have made. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Lizzy and I am thrilled you enjoy my efforts to capture the beauty I see in my part of the world.

williefromwi 10 years ago

SteveWaldren I wish you success in your attempts to see this most amazing owl. I had never seen one in the wild until this past winter. I ended up actually seeing two different birds and was able to photograph both as well. Hope to see your captures of one of these here someday.

williefromwi 10 years ago

Thanks so much Chris P. I have dozens of owl captures, but this is one of my finest judging from the feedback I have gotten back both here and other places I have shown it.

Annelies 10 years ago

That look :D Amazing spotting!

SteveWaldron 10 years ago

Beautiful. I'd love to see this species. Have tried several times for it at Yosemite National Park but no luck yet.

ChrisP 10 years ago

Now if this isn't character, what is?!

williefromwi 10 years ago

Thanks LandmarkExpert. I may be mistaken, but I am not sure I ever got SOTD for this capture.

Caleb Steindel
Caleb Steindel 10 years ago

belated congrats on SOTD willie, well deserved

williefromwi 11 years ago

Thank you so very much Patty, and claudiadurand1999

patty 11 years ago

Amazing owl and series willie! Fabulous! =)

williefromwi 11 years ago

Thank you so very much Mona Pirih

Mona Pirih
Mona Pirih 11 years ago

Wonderful photographs

williefromwi 11 years ago

Thanks Kathleen McEachern.

KathleenMcEachern 11 years ago

Another perfect portrait of a wild creature! Thanks for sharing it with us.

williefromwi 11 years ago

Thanks you Eliza3

Eliza3 11 years ago


williefromwi 11 years ago

Petricecat, this is indeed one majestic, and beautiful owl. I have been blessed with seeing two of these in the wild this year, along with some other rare owls ( at least for my part of the world). I hope to post a few captures of a Boreal Owl, and a Northern Hawk Owl that I spotted very soon. If you ever have the chance to see one of these beautiful owls, you will be impressed with its sheer size, and its stunning beauty. This owl, should not be in my part of the world, but is here simply because it could not find enough food ( rodents primarily) where it normally lives.

petricecat 11 years ago

What a beautiful owl never seen 1 up close he's beautiful nice picture no beautiful picture you're lucky person

Spotted by

Middleton, Wisconsin, United States

Spotted on Mar 23, 2013
Submitted on Mar 27, 2013

Related Spottings

Tawny Owl / Brown Owl Barred Owl Barred Owl Barred owl

Nearby Spottings

Great Ash Sphinx Dickcissel great golden digger wasp Summer Azure Butterfly
Noah Guardians
Noah Sponsors
join Project Noah Team

Join the Project Noah Team