White Ghosts of the North
These white ghosts of the north are attractive birds and, therefore, attract birders and photographers alike from all over when present in an area.
Wildlife Photographer Brittany Crossman wrote a stunning piece for Conjour last year showcasing her famous photography of the red fox. Here, she shares another love of hers: photographing the majestic Snowy owl.
By Brittany Crossman
Snowy owls are beautiful northern dwelling birds that I sometimes have the rare opportunity to see when they venture south during winter months. These wintering grounds are often used each year by these owls, however, their numbers in these areas fluctuate.
Like many owls, the snowy owl typically preys upon small rodents, especially lemmings in their breeding grounds. When in their wintering territories, they can be observed eating small rodents to even ducks. The areas of choice in winter are usually along coastlines where sea ducks are abundant or farmland/fields where rodents are plentiful.
Snowy owls have very few natural predators, their biggest threat being humans. During their migration south, snowy owls are hit by vehicles, suffer from collisions with power lines and other man-made structures. Young inexperienced snowy owls can also die due to starvation if prey are low in numbers or if they are frequently disrupted while hunting. Snowy owls need to eat and average of 9-10 rodents a day to sustain themselves.
These white ghosts of the north are attractive birds and, therefore, attract birders and photographers alike from all over when present in an area. With any wildlife, it is always important to give them adequate space. Getting too close can result in stress or make the bird fly off and burn unnecessary energy that should be saved for hunting. Enjoy these beautiful birds from a respectful distance, and everyone wins.
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