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In search of the Phantom of the North

The Great Gray Owl is North America’s largest owl by height and wingspan. They are rarely seen, hence the name “Phantom”. They live in the boreal forests of North America, Scandinavia, and Northern Russia. Although rare in the Adirondacks, one was spotted in Keene. So one cold March afternoon we went searching for it.

We drove about two hours to the location of the last sighting. Luck was with us. Fortunately the Great Gray hunts in open areas at the forest’s edge and we arrived just in time to see it perched a quarter of a mile away in a small tree watching for voles and field mice in the snow.

We got our spotting scope and camera set up and managed to get a few pictures before it abruptly flew away. The Grey Owl’s camouflage pattern of light and dark grey blends perfectly with tree bark making it virtually invisible. We felt lucky to have been able to catch a brief glimpse of this magnificent owl before it disappeared into the frozen north woods

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