Snowy owls are being seen everywhere. I missed a lot of them. I was on the Christmas Bird Count when a friend called me of one at Barcelona Harbor. I couldn't go. I forget why I couldn't, when the same friend told me of one very close to my house.
Finally, I saw one! I was buying tires at the Southern Auto Exchange on Foote Avenue which is south of Jamestown. As I was chatting with the owner, it turned out that one had been directly across the road from him for several days. Of course I looked for it. I saw it! Finally. Of course, I had not put my binoculars in my car. Why do I do such stupid things. I even have two pairs of them, so that I can keep one in the car at all times. Who knows why they were both on my kitchen counter.
Right across the road from his business is perfect habitat for the owl. The big field, near water, was not mowed or cultivated. It had scattered short grasses. Perfect for predator owls and predatie mice. (Yes, a librarian knows how to use a dictionary. I'm just being creative.)
The snowy owl is different from all the other owls, because the male and female look very different.
Photo by Gale VerHague
The research on this bird is fascinating. Because this bird has been reported a lot lately by all sorts of news venues, you probably already know that it breeds in the tundra. Let's go into more detail.
The male attracts the female by flying with spasmodic and wavy movements. That is followed by wing spreading on the ground and dancing with a dead lemming. Doesn't sound appealing to me. Personally, I would prefer live folk music while consuming a salad with lots of veggies.
Next stage. If he succeeds with his displays, it is time to build a nest. That would be placed on a hummock, especially one that is at the top of a gravel bank. Maybe it might choose a group of rocks. That nest is not lined, or if it is, it is only with a little moss, lichen and grass that are collected from nearby.
The preferred food is the lemming, but other rodents would probably not be passed by. If those are not readily available, it will consume other mammals and even marine invertebrates. Food, glorious food. Like most birds, the breeding and clutch size depend on the availability of that food.
The male also feeds the female when she is incubating the eggs. (My beloved husband only did that on my birthday and Christmas morning.) This must be a new age bird, ha, ha.
Being a life-long learner and retired librarian, makes research one of my loves. Thank you to The Post-Journal for giving me this opportunity. Writing gives me great joy.
The snowy owl young hatch asynchronously, that is, they do not hatch all together at one time. Nope. These birds can take up to three weeks, which allows the first born to fledge by the time the last arrives. After about 51-57 days, they're all flying. You need to learn more about this from my blog.
Finally, let's return to our bird for this discussion. I bet you thought I'd never get to it. Let me remind you, just in case you did forget. We're studying the snowy owl. Ha, ha.
After the chicks have hatched and survived, the family then stays together, until usually, into the fall.
At that time, the male roams around. The female remains territorial. She is busy holding onto that nesting area for the next year, by performing vocal and visual displays.
Who's the enemy? the Arctic fox, that's who. I think that it is interesting that geese and eiders nest near the owl nests for protection.
I have a lot more to tell you about the snowy owl. I even go through this history of this bird in the arts! I really do hope that you go to my blog to learn more. You can find that at annb2.wordpress.com.