An Eye on Wildlife

Wildlife Conservation Society Menu
Winter’s Most Exquisite Spirit

March 1, 2021

Winter’s Most Exquisite Spirit

- as seen by -

Stacy Ratel Stacy Ratel

A snowy owl, Bubo scandiacus, lands on the coast. At first glance, it seems like a frozen and inhospitable tundra. Yet, on closer inspection, the landscape provides a sanctuary where this owl can lounge from its Arctic migration south and search for food.

Before dawn, the beach between the ocean and the sand dunes is narrow at high tide. Tall, billowing grass fills the dunes, and weathered chocolate-colored curls of driftwood create a stark scene. In the twilight, my eyes scan the dunes for movement, and then I suddenly catch sight of its frosty white feathers jeweled with speckled bars, the quintessential camouflage, and designed to help the owl blend flawlessly with its environment. Nestled in the tufts of dune grasses, this mystical creature rests comfortably.

I found snowy owls making themselves cozy on the New Jersey shoreline, oblivious to the excitement they create for avid photographers and birdwatchers who are lucky to cross their paths even momentarily in the depths of winter here on the east coast.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To celebrate Women’s History Month, Wild View is featuring posts by and about women and their contributions to science and conservation throughout March.

, US Map It


Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply to Stacy Ratel Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Zahra Nahshal
March 1, 2021 at 9:26 am

It is very amazing, that you found a snow owl. You even made the article sound very detailed. That is very nice because not everyone is pacific of what they see, hear or feel.

    Stacy Ratel
    March 1, 2021 at 1:19 pm

    Hi Zahra,
    Thank you very much for reading my blog and for your kind words. I’m very sensitive to my experiences when observing wildlife and hope that reading this will increase your awareness when you are outdoors. You never know what you might discover!
    Ms. Ratel

Kage Bogart
March 1, 2021 at 9:27 am

I am a student in her 6th grade remote science class.I am very proud of her!

    Stacy Ratel
    March 1, 2021 at 1:23 pm

    Hello Kage,
    Thank you very much for reading my Snowy Owl blog! I’m very proud of all you do too. Once school resumes, I am hoping to take you with our class to visit the Bronx Zoo in person together, where we will be able to see Hedwig and his friends.
    Ms. Ratel

Malachi Morales
March 1, 2021 at 9:27 am

WaIt a MiNutE tHaTs mY tEaChEr

    Malachi Morales
    March 1, 2021 at 9:29 am

    She is pretty good. So cool that your own teacher gets to write for the bronx zoo.

      Stacy Ratel
      March 1, 2021 at 1:25 pm

      Hello Malachi,
      Thank you very much for reading my Snowy Owl blog! I am very grateful for your enthusiastic comments.
      Ms. Ratel

Ellen Newman
March 1, 2021 at 10:06 am

This is an extraordinary piece! The photo captured is amazing, and I’m sure it wasn’t easy to get. The narrative gives the reader the sense of actually being there. Beautifully done!!

    Stacy Ratel
    March 1, 2021 at 1:37 pm

    Hello Mrs. Newman,

    Thank you very much for reading my WCS Wild View blog. Searching for wildlife is challenging and very rewarding. One never knows what will be observed, and often what is seen is different from what was anticipated. I’m very grateful for thoughtful comments and am so glad you were able to feel as I felt at the beach, with a Snowy Owl right before my eyes.

March 1, 2021 at 10:28 am

Stacy’s writing and photography takes you in the magic of the moment. Funny how her students realize their teacher’s (other) talents.

    Stacy Ratel
    March 1, 2021 at 8:06 pm

    Thank you very much Rob. As a master photographer from the other side of the Atlantic, you’re not a stranger to the emotions evoked by rare and magnificent wildlife encounters, such as observing a Snowy Owl. This was a euphoric event, a delightful lifer I will always remember.

Jim Donohe
March 1, 2021 at 12:39 pm

I really love this piece. It really captures the magic of seeing this incredible bird in a dramatic setting!

    Stacy Ratel
    March 1, 2021 at 8:18 pm

    Thank you very much Jimmy, the setting was one we both know very well. My journey began with hope in my heart and I was astonished, absolutely awestruck by this fortunate event in nature.

March 1, 2021 at 1:27 pm

Written like a true ornithologist! ❤️❤️

    Stacy Ratel
    March 1, 2021 at 8:25 pm

    Thank you very much Ariel. The possibilities of what you might see in the field are endless. Of course many bird species, foxes, coyotes, seals, and deer, but you never know unless you venture outdoors. You are always welcome to join me.

March 1, 2021 at 1:41 pm

Sounds like a magical adventure, making me wanna be a zoologist instead of an engineer 🤔 ❤️

    Stacy Ratel
    March 1, 2021 at 8:32 pm

    Thank you very much Raffi. Indeed, it was an astonishing experience! You may find your niche as an engineer, zoologist, or wherever else the wind blows you. Anybody would be lucky to have you on their team, and I’m incredibly grateful you are on mine.

March 2, 2021 at 3:38 pm

As an avid Snowy Owl fan, I’m enamoured with you portrayal of the moment.

Clearly you have captured the visceral nature of what it’s like to experience these birds. Stand up and give yourself a hand.

Keep your wings up young lady, the future is bright.

    Stacy Ratel
    March 2, 2021 at 7:13 pm

    Thank you very much for your kind and entertaining comment. With confidence, you are most certainly the Snowy Owl connoisseur, so if you feel my depiction of a Snowy Owl event is accurately narrated, I’ve achieved what I intended to accomplish.

    I’m very appreciative of your inspirational and uplifting sentiment.

John Bacaring
March 3, 2021 at 6:21 pm

Loved that story of your Snowy Owl adventure!

    Stacy Ratel
    March 4, 2021 at 7:37 am

    Hi Johnny,

    Thank you very much for reading my feature! You’re not a stranger to the emotions felt when discovering Snowy Owls in the wild, and are very talented at capturing them in action! It’s an uplifting feeling when you spot one, isn’t it?

Cindi Tarshis
March 7, 2021 at 5:00 pm

What a beautiful blog and a magnificent photo!!!

    Stacy Ratel
    March 7, 2021 at 7:02 pm

    Thank you very much Cindi! This was certainly one of my favorite birding moments. xo and Love, Stacy.