Tag Archives: harry potter

Snowy Owl ~ Ghost of the Arctic

Snowy Owls have captured our imaginations partly because Harry Potter’s faithful companion Hedwig is a Snowy Owl, but also because unlike most owls, Snowy Owls hunt during the day, allowing us to observe their movements and struggle for survival more easily than their nocturnal cousins. Like all owls, the Snowy possesses a superb sense of hearing, binocular vision, and the ability to turn its head 270 degrees. A Snowy Owl’s hearing is so astute, it can capture prey under snow, without ever seeing the intended prey!

Snowy Owl Gloucester Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015

The Snowy Owl that was spotted in East Gloucester several days ago displayed this very behavior. Perched on a rock wall with a panoramic view of the surrounding fields, it held its body stone still all the while rotating its head around and around, up and down, and side to side. At one point, its head seemed to rotate in its socket nearly 360 degrees. In the two photos you can see the head turned seemingly backward from its front facing body, the second photo to an even greater degree than the first. By comparison, a human’s neck bones would snap if rotated to that measure and the blood vessels would close down. Owls not only have 14 very flexible neck bones, they have specialized blood vessels. When the circulation is cut off, others open to allow blood to flow.

Snowy Owl Gloucester Massachusetts January ©2015 Kim Smith

 Snowy Owl Irruption Update

Are Snowy Owls having a second irruption, two years in a row? It’s too early to tell. Just as with last year’s histoic incursion, they are again showing up all over eastern Massachusetts. My brief encounter with the Snowy Owl only left me wanting more!

You can learn much about the Snowy Owl from the tremendous film, The Magic of the Snowy Owl, linked here from a GMG post during last year’s widespread irruption. GMG FOB Mary McCloud shared this article from an Annapolis magazine, published last January, 2014.

Birds of Cape Ann and the Magic of the Snowy Owl

765px-Bubo_scandiacus_Delta_6During this season of the great Snowy Owl irruption of 2013, owlets were recently identified as far south as Florida and as far west as Bermuda!

425px-Snowy_Owl_-_Schnee-EuleA mature adult male may be completely white; the females and owlets have the contrasting dark dots and dashes.

Typically, the Snowy Owls that we see in our region during the winter months are not mature adults. The fledged owlets have yet to fully develop the skills needed to hunt in the Arctic tundra where food is in short supply during the winter months. The immatures migrate south in search of more plentifully available food in warmer hunting grounds. Not all Snowy Owlets migrate south, and some even migrate further north, heading for patches of open water to feed on fish.

The above though does not explain why there are so many Snowy Owls this year. One reason scientists speculate is that the Snowy Owl is having an irruptive year because it was so warm in the Arctic this past summer. There may have been an explosion in the Arctic lemming population, which would lead to a strong rate of survival amongst Snowy Owlets.

A recent controversy involving the slaughtering of Snowy Owls by The New York Port Authority was solved by adopting Boston’s Logan Airport model of capturing and relocating the Snowies. Why are Snowy Owls so interested in airports when they really prefer open areas such as sand dunes, marshes, native grasslands, jetties, and undisturbed beaches? Habitat destruction. As native grasslands have given way to development, in some regions, the only remaining open habitats are found at airports.

Snowy Owl With American Black DuckSnowy Owl  (Bubo scandiacus)

To learn more about the Magic of the Snowy Owl see this beautiful film from the PBS Nature series: Magic of the Snowy Owl

All images courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Snowy-Owl-Infographic-110912Click infographic to view larger

See more: Video shot in December, 2013, of a Snowy Owl encounter with a  pair of Peregrine Falcons.

Movie – “The Wizard Rockumentary”

wizard_rockumentary-posterTHE WIZARD ROCKUMENTARY
The Cape Ann Community Cinema
267 East Main Street
Gloucester, MA 01930

THURSDAY, FEB. 19 @ 7:15PM

There is an entire genre of music called “Wizard Rock” (which started in Massachusetts, actually) dedicated solely to celebrating the universe of Harry Potter, and the Schuyler Sisters’ “movie about rocking and Rowling” focuses on the dedicated fans that created it.

This screening will benefit The Toad Hall Bookstore in Rockport.

“…a relevant, artistic component of the [Harry Potter] experience and an effective, fun way for young people to express their passion for the books. It entices those unfamiliar with Harry Potter and leads [Harry Potter] readers to further explore the ideas contained within. And the Schuylers have captured it all beautifully.” -Arabella Figg, HogwartsProfessor.com