Sunday, March 8, 2015

Snowy winter has lots of fans

By David Horst

Faithful reader Alice Wagner posed this question after seeing my last column, which recounted the saga of me trying to photograph a female snowy owl my wife and I were seeing regularly near the Outagamie County Regional Airport.
Photos by Jordan Feucht
“I wondered, how do you know this is one owl, the same owl, at each different place you and your wife saw it?” Alice asked.

I explained that the black bar pattern on the owl identified it as a female. The pattern, which can vary substantially among individuals, and the close proximity of the sightings left me fairly confident we were seeing the same owl, a winter visitor for the arctic driven south by a short food supply.

Then comes an email from Jordan Feucht of Appleton that demonstrated that, while we may have been seeing the same owl, it wasn’t alone.

Jordan worked security at the Oshkosh Truck building on State 96 near the airport where our owl frequently perched. Photos he shot with his smartphone show there was a male companion, nearly pure white in color.

A shot he took through a chain link fence gives the eerie impression of a snowy owl doing hard prison time.