March 1, 2021
Winter’s Most Exquisite Spirit
- as seen by -Stacy Ratel @back_yard_birdie
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.