Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Great Grey Owl

While entering Yosemite National Park in California last November, I came across this pair of Great Grey Owls hunting in a snow filled meadow on the road to Glacier Point and the Half Dome.  When I first spotted the birds the air was foggy with mist drifting through the small opening within the conifers.  Some sunshine peeped through the trees but the birds remained in the shade listening and hunting voles in the snow covered long grass.
Scientists, in 2010, documented Yosemite's Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa Yosemitensis) as genetically distinct from the Great Grey Owl in western North America (Strix nebulosa nebulosa). In addition to genetic differences, behavioural differences appear to exist in the Yosemite subspecies. These include differences in migration patterns, prey preference, and nest site selection. Each of these genetic and behavioural characteristics indicates the Sierra Nevada population of Great Grey Owls has been isolated from other populations for an extensive period of time.


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