Enclosure status
IUCN status
Least Concern
Scientific name
Strix nebulosa
Canada, USA and Russia

Where are great gray owls from?

Great gray owls live in the forests and mountain ranges throughout Russia, Canada and the USA. The largest Strix in north America and the only member of its genus that breeds in both the new and old worlds. It’s large number of feathers allows it to withstand the freezing temperatures of northern winters.  

Great gray owl at Whipsnade Zoo

Great grey owl hunting

These birds are specialist rodent hunters, their flat circular face acts as a satellite, collecting sounds waves and directing them to hidden ears, giving them super hearing. Great gray owls can accurately locate by ear its rodent prey under snow and have been reported to break through snow crust thick enough to support the weight of an 80 kg man. 

Great gray owl perched in forest

What do great grey owls eat?

Shrews, voles, gophers, and rabbits  

Great gray owl nesting

Great gray owls prefer abandoned/ old nest of other birds but will also nest in the tops of broken trees.

Clutch size: 2-5 eggs

Incubation -  28-30 days

Eggs incubated only by the female, male finds food and feeds the female while shes on the nest.  

Bird at the Zoo

  • Ural owl perched in forest
    Strix uralensis

    Ural owl

    Ural owls defend their nests from people in the wild, swooping in with the equivalent force of a 72 kg mass falling from a height of 1 m.

  • White-faced Scops Owl with two tufts on it's head and bright orange eyes
    Ptilopsis leucotis

    White-faced scops owl

    These owl are able to transform to ward off predators, by either making themselves appear much larger or smaller.

  • Burrowing owl perched on a person's hand
    Athene cunicularia

    Burrowing owl

    The only owl species in the world to live underground, our burrowing owls show off their unique behaviours at Birds of the World.

  • African penguins at Whipsnade Zoo
    Spheniscus demersus

    African penguin

    These penguins are from warm climates, coming from the beaches of South Africa and Namibia.

  • Two Marabou storks 'the undertaker bird' at Whipsnade Zoo
    Leptoptilos crumenifer

    Marabou stork

    Known as the 'undertaker bird', these storks gained their unfortunate nickname because of their huge, dark, cloak-like wingspan and diet of rotten carcasses.

  • Ricky the rockhopper penguin at Whipsnade Zoo
    Eudyptes moseleyi

    Rockhopper penguin

    These small penguins pack in a big personality, and Ricky the rockhopper penguin is one of our most famous animals.

  • Animals at the Zoo