Watching a Great Gray Owl Hunt
On our last full day in Wyoming, we got up early to hike to a spot and look for elk. We knew there was elk in that area, and early morning is the best time to find them. Sadly, no elk, but we did see a Great Gray Owl.
We had the great pleasure of watching him hunt for about an hour.
He would fly to a snag, like this one, then sit and listen. Suddenly he would swoop down to the tall grass.
He would sit in the grass for a minute, and we would think he had something.
Twice he came up empty. And would fly to a new tree.
He was really zeroed in on something this time, but he came back up empty handed again.
Finally on his third attempt, he had breakfast.
When he flew back to a tree, he had a vole.
He flung his head back, and gulped the vole down in two quick swallows. We thought he would tear it up, like a hawk or eagle. I did a google search for owls, and their eating habits. We knew they produced owl pellets, but I wanted to know what exactly happens after they eat.
They swallow everything whole, and their strong stomach acids break down all the nutritious parts in a matter of a couple of hours. The second stomach then creates the owl pellet, that they throw up about 10 hours later. Until they throw up the pellet, they won’t feed again. The pellet takes up space, so they need to make room in order to hunt.
We went back in the evening to see if we could find him again. I wanted the sun at my back for better photos. But, we had no luck.
The experience of watching the owl hunt, was amazing. The best part was, we had him all to ourselves. Generally when you get off the beaten path, you can avoid all the people.
It was a great way to end our time in Wyoming this year.