Sunday, January 8, 2012

Snowy Owl, is that You?

A secret no longer...
   Every few years (I just learned), snowy owls descend from the Arctic tundra in search of food, as lemmings become scarce. Joni alerted me that the owls had been spotted in our area, and we spent most of this weekend tracking them down. Ah, the thrill of the hunt! (Don't worry, we were hunting with our cameras.)
   While we weren't lucky enough to see them up close, we did see two of them on Saturday, and all three of them today. I took a few photos of what mostly look like white blobs, but having seen the incredible birds through binoculars and high-powered scopes (Swarovski, no less!), at least the photos will help me remember the experience. I'm very grateful to Joni for spending her whole weekend with me, chasing these guys around Smithville. (And Brett says they've been spotted at Clinton Lake, too... ROAD TRIP!!!)
   The females appear darker due to the more plentiful black bars on their feathers, and the males are snowy-white. The owls have the utmost patience, sitting for hours in the same spot, calmly spinning their head from side to side, and sleepily opening their eyes and yawning occasionally.
   This was the scene Saturday at dusk, on the dam, with a male perched on the sign:
That's him on the sign. Trust me.
   And this was the same location on Sunday morning, with a juvenile sitting among the rocks. There was a male on the larger rocks headed towards the dam, too:
That's his little white head popping up in the center. I swear.
   See the next post for the main event... we got a tip that the female was over at the boat launch in Little Platte Park...