As just about everyone in the area knows, we are lucky to have snow owls in Kansas and Missouri this year. The one pictured below was on lake side of the dam at Smithville Lake. I watched and photographed him for about two hours until a jogger got too close and he flew away. I was very luck to see two of them that day.
I sent pictures of this one to ornithologist, Mark B. Robbins of the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute. He believes this one to be a juvenile male. In the picture above, he looks as though he’s angry that I’m close by. He’s actually preening himself which means that he’s not upset by my presence at all. I stayed quite a distance away so as not to cause him any stress. In my view, no photograph is worth taking if it causes an animal stress. I’d rather just watch and enjoy it from afar.
Snowys prey on lemmings which is a small rodent. They eat other small animals as well. Every three to five years, the lemming population crashes which causes some snowy owls to migrate south. It must really be bad this year because no one can remember seeing the numbers of snowys that we’re seeing in our area. Biologists and naturalists have said that many of them will not make it back up to the Arctic in the spring. They’ll just be too stressed or weak. Several have already been struck by cars. Cars, people and trees must be very strange to them. There are none or are very rare where they live.
It’s been a real treat to see them. I only hope that this one and many of the others in the area find enough food through out the winter to become strong enough to make it back home! Good Luck Little Buddy!