An environmental scientist working in the California Department of Fish and Game’s Timber Harvest Review program is appealing to birders and other residents in the north state who may have seen a great gray owl.
Joe Croteau says he is not aware of any documented great gray owl nests in California between Interstate 80 and the Oregon border, although they are occasionally spotted by foresters in the woods or as road kill along highways.
The state-listed endangered species bird known by the scientific name Strix nebulosa is about two feet tall with a five-foot wingspan.?It typically inhabits mountain forest/meadow edge environments, according to Croteau. They lack ear tufts and have a prominent white mustache. They typically feed on gophers, voles and woodrats. A single call is typically a 6 to 12 series of low-base monotone hoots.
Great gray owls occur world wide with known populations in Yosemite and southern Oregon, said Croteau. But he “has “received anecdotal, unverified observations the last few years from the Mount Shasta City and McCloud areas. Protocol level surveys on nearby tracts of land have not yielded any positive detections. However, due to small private ownerships, surveys of all potential habitat are not possible.”
Croteau, who describes his focus as being “on the conservation of special status wildlife and their habitats in northern California,” asks that anyone who thinks they’ve seen a great gray owl contact the California Department of Fish and Game at 530-842-0882.
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