In most winters great gray owls remain in their great north woods home in Canada, the mountains of the western U.S., northern Europe, and Siberia. But every four years or so, apparently motivated by a shortage of food (primarily voles), many of these owls will move southward in search of food.
In northeastern North America, the owls usually stay just north of the border, apparently finding suitable vole populations in southern Quebec and Ontario, but a handful of individuals will sometimes move further south into northern New York and New England. This is one such winter with a number of great gray owls being reported in southern Quebec, two reports from central Maine, and reports of several great gray owls in northern New York.
Most recently, 2-3 great gray owls have taken up temporary residence along Robinson Bay Road in Robert Moses State Park near Massena. As is characteristic of great gray owls, they go about their business with no concern for people or automobiles. This can get them into trouble, but happily for them the road is lightly traveled.
Apparently their lack of fear for people derives from not encountering people, at least folks who would do their harm, in their normal north woods habitat. Such tameness allows for wonderful viewing opportunities as the birds go about their hunting activities during daylight hours oblivious to bird and nature enthusiasts who have come from surrounding states and provinces to see these magnificent birds. They are most active in the first hours after dawn and the last hours before sunset.
Some photos of one of the great gray owls at Robert Moses State Park are posted in this folder.
Photo of Great Gray Owl by Larry Master.