The (Snowy) Owl on the Roof
November 7, 2008
When Joan opened the curtains this morning she found this fella sitting on the telephone pole. An hour or so later, it moved to the top of the house, where it stayed for a couple more hours.
This shot from the back yard. The bird kept its eye on me, but obviously wasn’t concerned about me. Never had an owl in our yard before. Very impressive.
The Owl Pages’ page for the Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) has great info on the Snowy Owl, which was classified in 1758 by famed Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus (the guy who laid the foundations for taxonomy & ecology). The “scandiacas” is a Latinised word referring to Scandinavia. Other names include Arctic Owl, Great White Owl, Ghost Owl, Ermine Owl, Tundra Ghost, Ookpik and (my personal favorite) White Terror of the North. The average female weighs 5 pounds and is 26″ tall with a 50-60″ wingspan, making it one of the larger owls.
The Snowy Owl is a beautiful, majestic Bird of Prey. It is one of the most
recognized birds to visit Michigan in the winter – they actually fly south
from Northern Canada and Alaska in October and November, then fly back
north in March and April – just as it starts to warm up. Only the males will
be completely white, the females are generally larger, but their feathers
are white with dark spotting or barring. These large white, tuftless owls
are found primarily in wide open inland spaces – this includes farmlands,
marshlands and even airports! Any of these habitats in Michigan resemble
their northern tundra homes.
Being a bird of open land, some of their favorite resting spots are on the
ground, a lamp post, or a rooftop; they hardly ever sit up in a tree. In their
breeding grounds, found far north, the lemming are their primary food
source. When the lemming population is on a decline in the tundra, the
snowy owl flies further south to supplement their hunger. This leads to an
occasional influx in the number of birds in Michigan, in fact studies have
shown that this happens every 4 -5 years. the most recent invasion
happened during the winter of 1991-92. More than 100 owls were reported
seen from over half of Michigan’s 83 counties!
Also see the Snowy Owl from All About Birds (has some sounds of the snowy owl too), Nyctea scandiaca (snowy owl) from Animal Diversity Web and Wikipedia’s Snowy Owl entry.
Finally, here’s a cool YouTube video of a snowy owl in Wayne County!