Thursday, April 11, 2013

Great Gray Day

Viewing the Middleton, Wisconsin Great Gray Owl

High up on my bucket list is seeing a great gray owl with my husband. I imagine a scene with snow gently falling as we hike through the forest. Huge flakes melting on our tongues and faces while all is silent around us. We look up at the very same moment and there it is ... a beautiful Great Gray Owl looking at us looking at him. Beautiful silence, soft falling snow, a hooting great gray owl and us holding hands and our breath in awe. This vision and bucket list sighting was planted in my hope and dreams after seeing the Great Gray Owl scene in the movie The Big Year. The character played by Jack Black and his father see a great gray together in a touching peaceful winter scene. I thinks it is the best scene in the movie.

An opportunity presented itself during the month of March as many birders were blessed with a few Great Gray Owl sightings in Wisconsin. My husband and I decided to visit the owl who chose the Capital Brewery in Middleton, Wisconsin as a rest stop. What we saw when we got there was not a dreamy winter woodland setting. It wasn’t snowing and we weren’t alone. This owl decided on a rest stop right in the middle of civilization! We viewed the owl on Terrance avenue just past the brewery in Middleton, Wisconsin.

While we were there the owl flew down from a tree into a pile of bricks and ate something twice, probably mice. It flew to perch on a pick up truck and sat for hours watching, listening. My husband put his arm around me and smiled as we watched the owl watching us. It was more than amazing.

It watched planes and hawks that passed by as well as people. I was hoping it would fly over to the tree that we heard it favored while we were visiting but it really seemed to enjoy this truck. In fact it was still sitting on it when we left. Someone shared with us that this was a young owl, probably first winter. The brown tuft on it’s tail feathers was a sign. No one knew if it was a male or female.

Just look at it strutting it’s stuff across the back of the truck! Goose bumps. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would EVER watch a Great Gray Owl walk along the back of a pick up truck. Sometimes those out the park (or forest in this case) moments are the most memorable. I will always remember this Great Gray Day. This great gray strut .. great great stuff. Bucket list stuff. Check.

This sweet Great Gray Owl gifted it’s presence to an uncountable number of people who had never seen a Great Gray Owl  before. A life sighting for many, many thankful people. I watched a local preschool class walk along the side walk a nice distance from the owl, children pointing, smiling. How wonderful those teachers were able to share this wonderful experience with them. A mother took her child to see the owl. They watched the owl in awe together right next to me. Finally the mother said “Are you ready to go?” The enchanted little girl sighed and waved goodbye to the owl. So sweet.  This sighting wasn’t anything like I had imagined it would be, but it was just as awe inspiring to view the owl in this unique setting with the many other people who truly enjoyed this experience.

Bless this charming owl during it's visit to Middleton, Wisconsin as well as it’s journey back home.


  1. What a magical bird! GREAT images Debbie : )

  2. Debbie~ Wonderful story and so glad that you were able to see this beautiful bird and get some nice pictures. John Longhenry

  3. simply beautifully captured shots ...lovely!

  4. What a magnificent bird, and how interesting that it decided to enter your environment rather than seek seclusion in the forest!

  5. A most wondrous experience for you and Paul! The Great Gray Owl is truly a magnificent creature. Debbie you have captured this owl so beautifully in your superb photographs! The feathers are especially striking. Captivating!

  6. Debbie, what a wonderful experience even if it was different from what you imagined! BTW, thanks for all the comments on my blogs!

  7. Just like others who commented, the word that comes to mind is "magnificent." Such a noble creature. I think it's wonderful that you and your husband enjoy birding together!