Thursday, March 28, 2019
I drove into the industrial park hoping to get a season’s ending glance of the Snowy Owl. While I was hopeful, I was also realistic that it was mid-March and these owls would be soon heading back to their Arctic homelands. I glanced over to the fenced communication buildings and towers where I’d seen her the last few times. No Snowy.
So I started my regular route through the park. I turned the first corner and lit up with surprise. There she was sitting on top of one of the last large piles of snow dumped by the plows. She was near a driveway, so I slowly pulled in to watch and click. She seemed totally unperturbed by my presence.
And just when I thought this was going to be a photoshoot where I only saw the owl twist its head from one side to the other looking for prey, it opened its mouth wide. I waited for a sound to come from its mouth and then I realized the Snowy was yawning. Was it bored? Sleepy?
I saw the whites of the Snowy Owl’s eyes come up. At first, I thought it was the translucent eye shade the owl uses to block out the sunlight on bright days. But it was one of the greyest days I’d seen, so I didn’t think that was it. No, it appeared to me that this owl was closing its eyes.
And then, the Snowy’s head drooped. Oh my. She was falling asleep.
Sleeping like a baby, she looked so sweet and innocent with soft nose feathers covering her dangerous beak.
Her head drooped more and more. She was out cold!
Limp as a sleeping baby, her head lolled to the other side.
After a TEN MINUTE snooze, the Snowy woke up and looked at me with a funny grin on her face. “I know,” she was thinking. “You caught me napping.” But maybe the smile meant something else.
And then the Snowy turned around and lifted her tail feathers. What was going on? Was she preparing to take off after her rejuvenating nap? Then I looked closer. Oh, no! Could it be?
It was true! She wass doing what most critters, including humans, do after a nap. She was relieving herself!!
Finished, she turned back to me. Yes, I saw the whole thing! Notice the yellowed snow. And she was keeping her tail feathers up a bit too. Air drying, perhaps??
And then, without warning, she was off and into the air. Unfortunately, I didn’t get more than this image of her in flight.
She didn’t go far, though, instead perching on a nearby lamp post, just far enough away to be less up close and personal. Since my first sighting of Snowy Owls in early January, I’ve shot thousands of images of these stunning birds. Now that it’s nearing the end of March, I’m being realistic that it may be the last photoshoot of the Snowies until next winter. Besides being a little sad at their leaving, I’m also grateful for all I’ve seen and learned about Snowies this season.