Happy New Year, Everyone! As tradition has it, now is the time to make some resolutions. And, at year’s end, when Danielle and I began to discuss our gratitude for lessons learned and appreciation for all things good, we decided to make a very different kind of resolution: to spot – and photograph – the Snowy Owl! In honor of this objective, and with the hope of realizing many birding goals in 2012, here begins our search this majestic bird!
Common Name: Snowy Owl (Also known as Arctic Owl or Great White Owl).
Latin Name: Nyctea scandiaca
Range: Nests in the Arctic tundra (Northern most regions of Alaska, Canada and Eurasia). During the winter, migrates south into Canada, northern United States, Europe and Asia.
Habitat: Breeds on open Arctic tundra. Winters in fields, beaches, coastal dunes, prairies and other open areas.
Diet: Lemmings, when available. Also rabbits, rodents, waterfowl, other birds, and fish.
Conservation Status: Least Concern. However, because of their preferred habitat, very little data is known.
A smorgasbord of facts…
- Snowy Owls are fierce and territorial–they will even defend their nests against wolves!
- Artistic representations of the Snowy Owl from the Paleolithic era can be found in the cave paintings in Ariege, France.
- Unlike most most owls, who are nocturnal, the Snowy Owl is diurnal, meaning it is active during the day and the night.
- The Snowy Owl is the official bird of Quebec.
- Harry Potter had a pet Snowy Owl named Hedwig.
- In the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest, and Eastern Canada, Snowy owls are irruptive, appearing only in some winters but not in others. This year the Snowy Owl is irruptive!!!
- The feathers of snowy owls contain no pigment, which allows more space for air. This helps to keep the birds warmer, since air is such a good insulator.
- A group of owls is known as a bazaar, a glaring, a parliament, a stooping and a wisdom.
- Snowy Owls have heavily feathered toes and legs to protect them from the harsh weather in cold arctic regions.
Wish us luck!
Happy New Year and Happy Birding!
Danielle + Michelle