Date: 1/9/21 7:49 pm
From: Kathy Van Der Aue via CTBirds <ctbirds...>
Subject: [CT Birds] Interesting Snowy Owl behavior
This message was passed along by a friend from another listserve:

"Here’s an interesting message about a Snowy Owl at the Parker River
National Wildlife Refuge. For background, Mr. Roberts is the founder (in
1976) of Eastern Mass Hawk Watch.

Paul K

Begin forwarded message:

*From: *<phawk254...>
*Subject: **[MASSBIRD] Surprising (?) Snowy Owl Behavior*
*Date: *January 9, 2021 at 9:25:45 AM EST
*To: *"<massbird...>" <massbird...>
*Reply-To: *<phawk254...>

Julie and I were on Plum Island on January 8 and observed a rather heavily
barred Snowy Owl sitting roughly 100 yards out in the marsh from the refuge
road, where it appeared relatively safe from human harassment. I was
photographing it while Julie was admiring it through the scope at 60X when
she asked "What is the owl doing?" The owl had stretched out, apparently
flat on its belly, looking like a penguin about to slide off the rock into
the water (but the wings were held tightly to the body). I sagely suggested
perhaps it had seen a vole or mouse approach oblivious to the owl and was
stretching slowly to snatch it, similar in behavior to a heron.

Then I caught saw movement out of the top of my field of view. An adult
Bald Eagle was rapidly approaching from the south, perhaps sixty feet off
the ground. The owl had obviously seen the eagle and had flattened itself
into a small "melting pile of snow." The eagle flew directly overhead and
past, seemingly oblivious to the feathered snow-pile. The owl craned its
neck to follow the eagle, and then stood up, eyes fixed on the now fast
disappearing eagle. The owl then assumed the normal relaxed vertical
posture it had had less than a minute earlier.

I've seen similar behavior by squirrels attempting to avoid a hawk, but
never seen a Snowy react this way before.


Paul M. Roberts
Medford, MA

Kathy Van Der Aue
Southport, CT
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