I also have to agree it doesnt look like rabbit tracks... however, i dont see an owl landing, then hopping, then walking staggered. because of the wing pattern, id say the bird was eating something, but no signs of that, other than the wings. hard to see it in a pic, but perhaps the tracks on the right are the rabbit coming into the picture, saw the owl, jumped laterally and turned around, where it was perhaps only stunned by the owl, made a few frantic hops, and then started staggering, perhaps due to injury. its a mystery! its all so difficult to tell with no point of reference...
From the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game:
The Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa) is one of the most reclusive owls in North America. Although widely distributed in Alaska, it is common only in certain localities. Couple this with its secretive habits and you have a bird rarely seen and little known to most Alaskans.
General description: The Great Gray Owl is the tallest owl in Alaska, but it is not the heaviest. The owl stands 19 inches (48.26 cm) high with a wing span of 4½ feet (1.37 m) and weighs from 2.3 to 3.5 pounds (1.0 to 1.6 kg).
Foods: The Great Gray Owl hunts by perching on a tree overlooking a meadow or open area. The owl's keen hearing enables it to accurately determine the location of its prey, even under two feet of snow. Once the owl locates some food, it silently glides from its perch and plunges into the snow to grab the rodent with its talons. Fresh “plunge marks” will occasionally show an imprint of the owl's outstretched wing feathers where the owl dropped into the snow. In many areas these marks are often the only indication that Great Gray Owls are in the area.
Looks like a 4 1/2 foot wingspan to me.
Any other theories?
That seems like a plausible theory. The depth of those prints make it clear that the animal is fairly heavy, and you can imagine a person walking and standing in the exact spot for a photo or closer look. No sign of the prey though...perhaps obliterated by the careless footprints of the curious hiker?
I emailed my cousin who lives in Kodiak, Alaska and works for the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game. He thought that it was more likely to be a Snowy Owl because of the range of the two owls.
The lady Susan Barstow that took this photo lives in Bethel, Alaska year round. If she thinks it was a rabbit or other rodent I am sure she wouldn't confuse those tracks with those of a biped. The confusion comes from the angle of the shot and the lack of something to give us a better perspective such as a shot from directly above. I am glad the trunks of the small trees are in the background to help. Biglost...I respect your opinion as I admire your photography of wildlife and mountains on SP, but I am sure the opinion of the lady that took this photo from a few feet away should be trusted. THANKS TO ALL who voted and commented on this photo. It has been fun reading your comments.
. . in yellowstone. Very obvious rodent tracks, and some had blood. I bet this an honest shot, it would be more incredible if it were sculpted by someone. That WOULD be art!
About thirty years ago I was the only hand on a fairly large ranch (9600 acres), about 16 miles south of Rapid City, inside the hog back ridges that surround the Black Hills. One bright, sunny day, the nice old widow that owned the place asked me to reduce the cottontail population that had been feeding on the rose bushes that surrounded her yard. That beat fixing fences, so I grabbed my dog and .22 and started tracking in the few inches of fresh, dry snow that had fallen the night before. I had head shot a couple of yummy bunnies near the barn yard and then followed a set of tracks among some old farm machinery and wagons outside of a chokecherry windbreak along the West and North sides of the home place. Both provided good cover from predators, but not for the lone bunny that chose to explore beyond it's safety on the open prairie further West. His set of tracks ended in a brush of wing prints upon the light snow. Following the direction of flight, I found several drops of bright blood that lead to a small bluff about fifty yards from the site of ambush. There, I found cottontail fur and the unfrozen remains of what would have been the third serving of that night's stew. I suspect my fellow hunter saw me before I saw it and had flew away. Judging from the time of day and the size of the wing prints, I concluded my well-fed competition was one of the pair of Rough Legged Hawks that I saw several times daily while I did my chores that winter. I was happy for them and my fortune of seeing the story in the snow.
Holsti97--Fantastic image. Gave me an idea, so I've started a photo album called "Animal Signs" and have set this image up at the page top. Let me know if you'd prefer I not use it.
This looks like a once in a lifetime photo.
Hey, look at the tail print at the end of the track (and in the center of the wings print)
Sure it is a heavy bird. Dont know wich one, but it might have tried to take the light boy who ran into the tree, as we can see the long steps. Or should I better say desperate jumps????
That's nature. Let´s not forget we do the same!!!
Amazing. No other words to describe it.
nature never ends... and never stops stupefy me.
That´s an amazing shot. Congratulations !
Must be a once in a lifetime photo opportunity. Brilliant!
Do you personally know the person who took the picture? I'm wondering if it's a hoax. No blood and it looks as if the owl levitated off the ground after hitting the snow. No sign of movement of the wings after impact.
Stunning patterns, and it saved me some money. I showed the picture to my kids and explained that there won't be any Easter eggs this year.
OK, not really.
On the small tracks, what if they came later on, and went up the tree..Another photo from a differant angle would be nice..
That picture needs to be framed...mark
I always thought birds of prey never attack from the front.
Owls sometimes drop straight down.
got away and this is a failed attack from the rear. Of course the rabbit would have had to sit there quite a bit.
Oh the other hand horned owls attack at night, so is the rear attack required?