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I'm not all white: Tiny brown vole has no chance escaping giant owl as it scurries across snow-covered field



By Mail Foreign Service

Last updated at 5:02 PM on 05th March 2010



The little meadow vole probably thought he was safe from predators one foot underneath a snow drift.

But the tiny creature didn't stand a chance when it emerged from its hiding place - a Great Grey Owl had already detected the rodent and was waiting patiently.

The giant bird of prey - which is the world's biggest owl - has large facial disks which focus even the faintest of sounds.



Zeroing in: The Great Grey owl swoops on its unsuspecting prey after detecting the tiny meadow vole one foot below the snow


It swoops in the blink of an eye and snares its prey, pausing for a few seconds before taking off with its precious meal.

The owl had been perched in a tree overlooking the field in Bobcaygeon, Ontario, Canada, as temperatures plummeted to -15C.

Photographer Jody Melanson, 47, travelled an hour to the area to get pictures after receiving a tip-off that the Great Grey Owl was there.

He said: 'I found the owl after five minutes of searching. He was sitting in a tree hunting.

'When he heard or saw something edible he swooped down and grabbed the vole.




Snow way out: The owl lands several inches into the snow after pouncing on the hapless vole




Wise guy: The bird of prey has a unique 'radar dish' face which allows it to detect prey even if it is under snow




'Great Grey Owls can hear prey a foot below the snow. The owls face is shaped like a radar dish and they use their ears to pinpoint the prey's location.

'There is no chase. The owl hears, silently swoops in and pounces on the prey. The owl seldom misses.'

Great Grey Owls live across the North American continent. Adults have a big, rounded head with a grey face and yellow eyes.

They eat mostly small rodents, with voles being their most important food source.



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