The complete story of an immature Snowy Owl hunting on bare ground during a brief winter thaw couldn’t be squeezed into a single post. The subtleties of owl behavior during an active hunt, particularly those pertaining to mobility, deserve special treatment in a dedicated post.
The owl was hunting a bare patch less than 30 meters across. In addition to the attack on a small mammal described in the previous post, he moved several times during my hour-long visit. Short distances of a meter or two were covered by walking, longer distances by a short, low flight. I likened this behavior to that of a human hunter, birdwatcher or nature photographer who might sit in one place for awhile and, if nothing happens, move a little further down the trail and try again.
These images depict a Snowy Owl walking, presumably to gain a better vantage point from which to hunt. (walking is a common behavior, but I suspect they hope no one is around to take their picture when they’re doing it, preferring instead to be immortalized in flight!)
In this sequence, the owl has flown about 20 meters, from bare ground to the snow-covered fringe, and is skidding to a stop.
Note the fragment of corn stalk in his face, and his reaction!
Snowy is hunting the bare ground again, but this time with the added advantage of natural camouflage.
Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.