April 12, 2021
Snowy Owl: Dreams of Flight
- as seen by -Stacy Ratel @back_yard_birdie
For years, I have been searching for the snowy owl, Bubo scandiacus, during my winter trips to the shoreline and grasslands of New Jersey. Each winter, I’d wonder, “Will this be my time?” My feet crunched the sandy snow as my eyes scoured the landscape in the hope of seeing a full moon-shaped face in the pre-dawn light.
This was my winter. Out of the corner of my eye, I was attracted to a subtle movement in the tufts of tall dune grass. After a moment of utter disbelief, I realized the beloved snowy owl was there before me, wings readying to fly. I was riveted by its minor head tilts, blinking, and preening followed by complete stillness. Then it took flight gracefully extending its mottled wings as it became airborne. It glided effortlessly.
As I watched its physical power, I was reminded how, as a child, I often dreamed of being able to fly. My adult self was rooted to the ground, jealous of the owl’s capacity to cruise the skies.
The owl’s lift off mirrored my own excitement. I caught sight of its brilliant yellow eyes, and its fluffy feather-covered talons that reminded me of big cozy slippers. It flew on in silence, slow and serene.
If you ever find one of these magnificent creatures on the New Jersey shoreline, please do not disclose its specific location to protect the animal and the habitat. Protection and respect are essential to environmental preservation for future generations.