The great gray is Minnesota's largest owl. It stands about 2 feet high, and has a 5-foot wingspread. The boreal coniferous forest is its home. In this state, great gray owls are most often seen within 100 miles of the Canadian border. However, during some winters, a few will visit the southern part of the state. Like other owls of the far north, this species hunts during the daytime, often watching for prey from a low perch. In winter it will plunge into snow to catch rodents detected by sounds.

Because the great gray owl spends much of its time in dense conifers, it is usually overlooked. One of the most elusive of American birds, it was discovered in America by Europeans before they realized the species also occurs in Europe. The Sax-Zim Bog, close to Meadowlands and Cotton, in St. Louis County is one area where this large owl has been seen quite often this winter.