Great Grey Owl - Strix nebulosa - 'Anuk'

Claire stevens gg Owl WEB

Anuk is one of our prize owls.   He has always been an owl of many moods, and when he went awol for ten days at a year old, then on his return to good health, kept gazing off into space like a daydreamer at school, we decided to offer him a more protected environment for his flying inside the barn. In the past year however he has been on retirement as his moulting season tends to correspond to the summer flying season!  however, he enjoys his life of luxury in his aviary in the owl garden.

Great grey owls inhabit the northern boreal forest zone, sharing the habitat with the Northern hawk owl. They hunt in open clearings, mainly after voles and some lemmings. In general they keep a look out from a high branch or broken tree, then glide down in a silence of softness to pounce on the prey below with their long legs. When the snow is deep and with the prey below, they can break through up to 50cm of snow with amazing accuracy. They depend largely on their hearing to catch their prey, the layers of concentric feathers drawing the sound directly into the large ear openings. In the summer months when feeding young they will hunt over the 24 hour period, but during the dark hours of the winter they need to be able to hunt at night.

Their preferred nesting sites are within coniferous forest, choosing a rotten tree top or another bird of prey nest. They usually produce a clutch of four eggs, but this is dependent on food availability. The young leave the nest at about 4 weeks of age clambering around fallen trees and branches, and start to fly by about 7 weeks of age.

Anuk was very kindly donated to the Centre by Ann Chamberlain, who volunteered at the Centre since its inception in 1994 to 2008.  We are indebted to her and her family for their constant help and support. Sadly Ann died from cancer in 2010, and there is a bench in her memory in front of Anuk's aviary where she would love to sit today - she loved this place and 'her owls' here at the Centre.  Ann's family still have a disabled Snowy Owl - ' Drift' - bred here at the Centre over 18 years ago!