Thursday, March 15, 2012

Adult male Snowy Owl

Photo: Chuck Slusarczyk

I've been wanting to share this photo ever since Chuck Slusarczyk sent it along a few days back. It shows an adult male Snowy Owl, Bubo scandiacus. Chuck snapped this shot at Cleveland Hopkins Airport on March 10th, and it is the second owl seen there (the other was a heavily black-barred immature bird).

Virtually all of the Snowy Owls that make it as far south as Ohio are young birds, which are prominently marked with black, as SEEN HERE. The adult males are quite striking; it's as if they have been carved from a block of ivory.

Thanks to Chuck for sharing this photo. I've been fortunate to be able to feature some of Chuck's other work before, such as his amazing Blizzard of Gulls photos. If you would like to see more of Chuck's photos, CLICK HERE.


ben said...

Bubo? What happened to Nyctea?

Jim McCormac said...

Research done about a decade ago showed that Nyctea - the Snowy Owl was the sole representative of the genus - was very closely allied with the genus Bubo.. In the mid 2000's, Nyctea was merged with Bubo, making for two members of the genus in the Americas, the Great Horned Owl being the other.

Jenn said...

Any reason you can think of as to why you are mostly seeing young snowy owls ? Are adults too tired to fly any further south or is it too competitive for food for the young birds further north ?

Jim McCormac said...

It seems it is the adults who have to take the least risks, and engage in potentially risky long-distance flights in search of food. Instead, the young owls are forced southward when food shortages occur. Long-term survival of the species probably favors tilting the odds in favor of experienced adults, who are proven at successfully nesting and fledging new owls.