Great Gray Owl in Northern New York

I think this one ended up being my favorite shot of the owl, so I couldn't help but add it on!

I think this one ended up being my favorite shot of the owl, so I couldn’t help but add it on!


The fabulous Great Gray Owl at Robert Moses today!

The fabulous Great Gray Owl at Robert Moses today!


Friday evening I received a call from Lance Verderame informing me that the Great Gray Owl in Massena, New York was relocated today. He asked if I wanted to go for it. I had plans for the evening including my God Daughter Jackie’s Birthday dinner. After much discussion, I decided I’d be home by 10pm, up by 2 am and we’d head north to St. Lawrence County. I departed Yankee Lake with snow falling. I picked up Lance and we headed north. The snow stopped in Delaware County and we had an uneventful trip to the St. Lawrence River. We arrived at Robert Moses State Park at 9 am. Upon exiting the tunnel under the loch, I immediately spotted a NORTHERN SHRIKE! We began our search for the Great Gray Owl, but it was initially unsuccessful. Surprisingly, we found NO other birders present. As we searched, birders began arriving. We met a couple who had come down another road who informed us they had been there since 8 am with no luck. Other birders included Bill Purcell and Gary Chapin. We searched all of the areas the bird had been being seen to no avail. Then as we decided to head down another road, Bill Purcell came up flashing his lights. He had just found the Great Gray just past the entrance to the Nature Center. We headed right to the spot. I thought we would be having distant views of this bird, but instead, it was only forty feet away! We sat photographing the bird which at that point was all ours! Other birder arrived to great views of the bird. We spent a half an hour with the bird getting great views and photos. We then headed out of the park starting our six hour trip home. As we exited the park, we ran into the couple we had first met this morning. We filled them in on the location of the bird and they sped off in hopes of seeing it. Shortly thereafter, Lance received a text informing us that a second Great Gray Owl had arrived and was being seen by the birders present. This was a most exciting event for us. It was a life bird for Lance! It was a new New York State bird for both of us! I’d like to thank Bill for letting us know he had found the bird! If you can, travel north and get this most majestic of owls!
This wonderful bird entertained many for over half an hour as we watched in awe.

This wonderful bird entertained many for over half an hour as we watched in awe.


What an experience this was! I have only seen Great Gray Owl once before (see Yellowstone National Park trip "09) and it was an exciting addition to my New York list (405).

What an experience this was! I have only seen Great Gray Owl once before (see Yellowstone National Park trip “09) and it was an exciting addition to my New York list (405).

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7 Responses to Great Gray Owl in Northern New York

  1. Wow, wow, wow! Congratulations to you and Lance. Great shots, that must have been incredible! Wow!

  2. Deb Kral says:

    FANTASTIC, John. I had considered going but that is a long way to drive! Congratulations on a new State bird!

  3. Believe it or not, a third Great Gray Owl was found in Franklin County today! If there ever was a time to try for these birds, this is it! My last opportunity (which I missed because I was in Mexico) was in 2004. This doesn’t happen every day. Thanks to all for your input!

  4. kdudge says:

    Wow, John. Awesome! I almost ran for this bird this weekend. After seeing your photos, I wish I did!

  5. Even though weather won’t be good tomorrow, I think these birds will be around a while, you may still have a chance! Good luck if you go!

  6. Karen Miller says:

    Congratulations to both of you! What a face on this bird!!

  7. Thanks Karen! It is quite the bird isn’t it.

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