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!
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 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.
Immature Snowy Owl East Gloucester
Budding Ornithologists Meadow, Atticus, Frieda, Esme, and Pilar
Thanks so much to my sweet friends Dawn and Michelle for thinking to call me to come see!
See previous GMG Snowy Owl post: Birds of Cape Ann and the Magic of the Snowy Owl
My new swimsuit arrived today from Coastal Dog Apparel in plenty of time for the New Year’s Polar Plunge. These thing are pretty snazzy and might be just the thing for a cold dip. Comfy and loose outer swimsuit with an inner swimsuit that is form fitting. Keeping those kibbles and bits all snug is key when diving into 42° F ice water.
The tourists and the snowy owls all flew away. I wonder why?
To prepare for the chill the Rubber Duck went off to Stage Fort Park to check out the snowy owls.
This is a photo of a sexy potato which has nothing whatsoever to do with this post.
While walking this morning at Stage Fort Park with Elynn Kroger, we encountered this beautiful snowy owl. A little later, I ran into Peggy Russell from Pop Gallery, who also had seen him, but hadn’t been able to get a shot of him. This is for you Peggy. Merry Christmas. What a special treat on Christmas morning.
Of course it never fails that I encounter something magical when I carry my chumpy little pocket camera. I wish I’d brought the nice one Paul Frontiero gave me, as I had originally intended. Lesson. Never second-guess your first impulse.
FlashBack 2008 GMG Snowy Owl Photos
These were my first photos ever published on the GMG Website on 12/17/2008. I would go down to the State Fish every morning before work to watch the lights of the boats leaving the Harbor.
This one morning in 2008 I saw this Bird which I thought was a seagull with no beak. sitting on a sign post. When I got closer I saw that it was really a Snowy Owl. I rushed home and got my camera thinking it would probably be gone by the time i got back. Luckily it was still there.
I’ve had a recent close encounter with an Owl in my Yard this past Thursday night which I shared with a few special people in my life. It made me think back to this post. When I checked the date that Joey put them up it was 3 years ago today. Kind of Ironic!
All these events i feel have changed my life.
Here is one meaning of seeing an Owl;
In ancient Egyptian, Celtic, and Hindu cultures the symbolic meaning of owl revolved around guardianship of the underworlds, and a protection of the dead.
In this light the owl was ruler of the night and seer of souls. A misunderstanding of this necessary relationship gave the owl some negative associations with death.
It should be clear that the owl was honored as the keeper of spirits who had passed from one plane to another. Often myth indicates the owl accompanying a spirit to the underworld – winging it’s newly freed soul from the physical world into the realm of spirit.
Here are those 12/17/2008 posts;
Paul forwarded a couple pictures of this snowy owl that has been hanging around on the State Fish Pier. Mark Ring had told me about it last week and said that it was probably responsible for the many dead seagulls around town. He says they swoop in and rip out their guts and then leave the rest of the gull behind (I guess there’s not much fun in eating feathers)
Thanks for the pics Paul!
Where are those seagulls at? I’m hungry damnit!