So as everybody and their dog knows now, there are interesting things happening in the Park. Starting last week and continuing through this one, Great Gray Owls have been becoming apparent in the Park.
Larissa and I had the pleasure of seeing them early last week, which I will describe in detail a little bit later, but the other day we were driving to work as I was complaining about not having enough birds to make the bird report, I noticed an owl right along the highway!
It was only a few feet away from us so we pulled over to get a better look. This was Larissa's first year really getting into birding, and the fact that she launched all 5' 2" (the equivalent of approximately three Great Gray Owls) of herself out of the still-moving vehicle made it pretty obvious that she was enjoying it. I would too, if I'd seen as many Great Gray Owls (this was her fourth in two weeks) in my first year...
The bird sat around and did pretty much what was typical - nothing - with the exception of looking intently at a passing grackle flock. We moved along.
This morning was just as dark and cloudy and the bird was right where we'd left it.
Then the bird, for one reason or another, flew directly at us and landed about two metres away, giving amazing looks but also reassuring us that Great Gray Owls aren't the brightest of birds. To be fair, this bird has probably never seen people, cars or roads before.
You can see the pointed tips to the tail feathers signifying the bird as being in it's first year. It also shows only one generation of secondaries and primaries (i.e, there's no old vs. new feather contrast). This bird might be a dispersing nestling from a breeding pair in the park, or perhaps a bird coming down from parts further North, like the Boreal Owls that have been doing the same.
If bird survives through the weekend, which will probably bring 10'000 people through the highway driving 120+km/h with sporty city cars, and if nobody feeds it, throws things at it, touches it etc... it will certainly be a very neat opportunity for birders from Southern Ontario to see a bird characteristic of the Boreal Forest further North.