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Camouflaged Killer

She is beautiful in winter white. Her speckled coat keeps her out of sight. She lives on the ground, though its not where she's found. ?Her razor sharp fingers help her catch what may linger. ?She tears animal protein like a fast mincing machine. Her silent maneuver may be heard in Vancouver. This tundran spy, Is always so sly. But she's not in a family of bears. What is she?

She is the Snowy Owl, a large white Owl that has a rounded head, yellow eyes and black bill. The feet are heavily feathered to protect against frigid climates while the bird is on the ground. A distinctive white Owl, their overall plumage is variably barred or speckled with thin, black, horizontal bars or spots. Females and owlets are more heavily marked than males while adult males may be almost pure white, although they have up to three tail bands. Adult females are distinctly barred all over, and have from four to six tail bands. Young owlets are very heavily barred, and dark spotting may control the overall plumage. The strength of dark spotting varies with the sex of the owlet, females being the darkest. Young owlets are steadily brown with scattered white tips. The color and distinction of the Snow Owls plumage plays a vital role in the camouflage and survival that the Snowy Owl lives for. Snowy Owls are active during the daytime, from dawn to dusk, but also spend a little time hunting during the night. They have a strong getting-hit-in-the-face-un-expectantly flight with powerful down strokes and quick upstrokes. They make short flights, close to the ground, from perch to perch. During hot weather, they can thermo regulate by panting and spreading their wings (Duncan 26).

This winter bird lives in the most frigid of weather conditions. The scolding winter chill, blowing with ferocious desire, having a majestic coolness that lay upon her fur, across the snow cap floor to the horizon, displaying a notion of peace that drifts over each fallen snow, melting into one another again and again, spreading over the feather soft wings, slipping through every groove of untouched bird. Moving across the tundran floor to scavenge for prey she will not make a sound. The Snowy Owl is nearly silent during off breeding seasons. They will not emit a sound as to become stealthier in their attack on small prey. The typical call of the male is a loud, harsh bark, while the female has a similar higher pitched call (Duncan 32). During the breeding season males have a loud, booming "hoo, hoo" given as a territorial announcement or mating call. Females rarely speak. Why? They do not need to produce a mating call in order for a mate to find them. When excited it may emit a louder screatching-jet-as-it-flys-by shrill. Other sounds are rattling cackles, shrieks, hissing, and bill-snapping. Nestlings give a "cheep" in the first two weeks of age, then hiss and squeal.

Most hunting is done in a sit and wait action. Snow Owls are highly diurnal, pertaining to the day, although they may hunt at night as well (Meche). Prey are captured on the ground, in the air, or snatched off the surface of water bodies. When taking hares, an arctic bird will sink its talons



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