Great Grey Owl at Sax-Zim Bog, MN

This guy was sitting by the road soaking up some rays at -13 degrees F. Sitting only at about 50 feet away. I was using a rented Sony A7R4 with Sony 200-600mm lens. I still can’t decide between this camera and the Canon R5 with the 100-500mm lens. No post processing but a small crop. Handheld so image stabilization on this camera is pretty good.

Technical Details

Composite: No
Sony a7r4 at 600mm and 50 feet away.


These guys are so majestic and spectral. I’ve never had the privilege to see one, but since I live in northern Wisconsin, I think I just need to figure out where they are. Well done and thanks for sharing!

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Wow! Nice photo Richard.

This is a wonderful image. We tried very hard last year, but unfortunately, other photographers, ignorant of how to approach these owls, destroyed our best chances for good photos. We need to try again sometime. And as for the Sony gear, I gave up Canon two years ago and have been thrilled with my switch ever since.

Relatively speaking, Sax-Zim is nearby and I’ve heard so much about it and the great gray population that I’ve had it on my radar. Can you give me any advice as to how best to approach the owls? I have a photo blind coming at the end of the month, so that’s something I can do in future. Mostly I’m interested in not disturbing them or making them feel unsafe in their hunting territories. Thanks in advance.

Hi Kristen, for some reason the owls are fearful of cars when they stop near where they are perched. The usually fly when a car stops near them. You need to keep driving by when you see one and don’t stop until you are more than 100 yards away. Then DON’T slam your car door, close it softly and walk slowly and quietly with your gear until you are in position for a good photo. Watch the owl carefully as you approach and stop the moment it shows any sign of concern about your presence, i.e. getting ready to fly. You are lucky to live near Sax-Zim.

Thanks very much @Charles_Bell - I’ll keep that in mind if I get up there. It’s about 4 1/2 hours away from my house. Doable, but maybe an overnighter. And I’m sure there’s plenty of other stuff up that way worth a visit.

If you do plan to go back for an overnight, I recommend the little lodge we stayed at, which is very close to the bog. It is Alesches Lodge. They have both individual cabins and lodge rooms with a common lounge and common kitchen. We stayed in a cabin with our own complete kitchen and made all of our own meals.