Hunting the High Ground, Part 2

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!)

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In this sequence, the owl has flown about 20 meters, from bare ground to the snow-covered fringe, and is skidding to a stop.

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Note the fragment of corn stalk in his face, and his reaction!

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Snowy is hunting the bare ground again, but this time with the added advantage of natural camouflage.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

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5 thoughts on “Hunting the High Ground, Part 2

  1. Snowy owls are in the news lately. I recently read an article about the snowy owl moving farther south, and a snowy owl is on the cover of Audubon magazine.

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