Posted by: atowhee | March 8, 2013

NO BUSINESS LIKE SNOW BUSINESS

Other possible headlines for this post: Lookie, a Rookie. A Blizzard of Good Birds. Up On the Roof. Owl Right. Owl Bet You’re Jealous Now. Or simply: a Snowy Owl in Sequim. snowl stare

snowl-1

snowl--2

snowl-prrfctThis is the second straight winter that there have been some first-year Snowy Owls in Washington State and northern Oregon. This particular bird has gained a bit of positive noteriety in the Clallam County area at the north end of the Olympic Peninsula. He has moved into a decidely upscale housing development on a slope of the Olympic Mountains with world-class views north toward the San Juans and Canada. Green forests, blue sound, golden sunset, islands floating in the mist. We found our Snowy friend resting atop a gazebo on a large lot of an even larger house. He was the only one home at the time.
It is generally first-year owls that are forced southward from the Arctic to find food after the Snowy Owl population has overgrown its usual wintering habitat and food supply. This youngster has clearly done well this winter, looking healthy here as spring approaches and humans decide to change their clocks an hour. Is this a beautiful bird or what?
We found him because we walked into a restaurant for dinner and Don Lim was still unabashedly wearing his binocs. A local woman started chatting with Don about birding and then said brightly, “Seen our owl?” The story proceeded and she then called her owlish friend to ask about this local celeb. The owl lady on the phone (really just an iPhone) said she’d seen the owl an hour earlier and gave explicit directions. We ditched our dinner reservations, hustled out the door and uphill to Owl-land.
The Snowy Owl was NOT on the roof of the house where he’d been an hour before, so we slowly drove uphill. Suddenly Sande Chilvers ordered me to stop, “Back up.” She said she’d seen a statue or an owl or maybe a big finial. I backed a bit and through a tree I saw the big white thumb. No doubt. We were out of the car and gathered in amazed admiration within a few seconds. The owl gave us his best stares but never moved from the gazebo top where we found him.
We wished him happy hunting and healthy return to the tundra where he was born. There were those among us who had never before seen this storied creature in the feather and flesh.
The average Snowy owl is just short of two feet tall (about an inch more than your usual Great Horned) with a wing-span of over four-feet, the equivalent of the Great Gray Owl’s wingspan. His sleek, pale feathers provide the insulation needed for survival in the far north beyond the treeline. This individual has been observed to be active primarily in evening and at night, another sign its hunting has been successful. Starving birds will hunt even in broad daylight.


Responses

  1. […] Click here for my eight year old blog on a Snowy Owl my birding group was directed to in a suburban … A lady at the restaurant where we’d stopped for dinner told us her friend had one in her garden. Forget dinner, let’s go get that owl…and so we did, eating a much later dinner. […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: