On a gloomy day with some on and off snow flurries the highlight on Milwaukee’s lakefront today was finding a Snowy Owl at the Lake Express Ferry. It sat on a container the time I was there. Bruce joined me and enjoyed the views too. We had been together earlier at Bradford Beach watching 4 nice Great Black-backed Gulls on the beach but were in the water more than out. The Snowy Owl seemed to be in the hunting mode but never went for anything. It did some preening and resting but that was about it. I think it is a male but have not really studied it yet. A nice way to end the year with seeing the 1st Snowy Owl of the season. 2 hunting Northern Harriers and a American Kestrel also made themselves present at the Lake Express. Images were taken on December 30, 2015.
Binomial name: Bubo scandiacus
Category: Typical Owls
Description: Adult males are mostly white with a few dark feather tips. Adult females and juveniles are white with dark scalloping on chest, back, wings, and tail. Yellow eyes, black beak, and feathery feet.
Size: 20”- 28” long, 49” – 59” wingspan
Weight: 3.5 lb. – 6.6 lb.
Habitat: Wide open, treeless spaces such as shorelines, lakes, open fields, and agricultural sites.
Diet: Small mammals such as rodents, lemmings, voles, mice, rats, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, and other birds such as shorebirds, songbirds, ducks, geese, and pheasants.
Nesting: The female builds a nest on a mound with good visibility. She scrapes away the top layer of soil and, over several days, presses her body into the ground to make a depression. She will lay a clutch of 3 to 11 eggs and incubate them for about 5 weeks. Both parents will defend the nest and care for the hatchlings which are born pure white. The same nest may be used year after year.
Notes: Snowy owls are considered the heaviest owl in North America, weighing about a pound more than its closest contender, the Great Horned Owl. A snowy owl was featured in the Harry Potter series when Harry received his pet, Hedwig. It is also the official bird of Quebec.