Saturday, January 3, 2015

Snowy Owl

On New Year’s Day, Dave Bartkey reported seeing a Snowy Owl just south of Nerstrand, Rice County, Minnesota. Gene and Susan Bauer and I gave chase laster that morning. I really don’t know how Gene spied the owl. If you can’t find it in the first photo, try enlarging the image on your computer screen. I took the first photo at a smaller magnification than the second photo, knowing that it would make a good blog image. The second photo is taken at about 500 mm and greatly enlarged. Following owl-watching ethics, we did not chase the owl across the field. 
Snowy Owls range from small, almost pure-white males to heavily barred, large females. Males and females at the far ends of this spectrum are fairly easy to tell apart. Intermediately sized and barred individuals are often questionable as to sex. Kevin McGowan has posted an excellent review of Snowy Owl variation, which is worth reading if you are interested. I have photos (taken in previous years) of what I believe to be a slightly darker male as well as an individual that is, due to her extensively barred underparts, probably a female.

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