We have been hearing about Snowy Owl sightings in Pa. After numerous visits to the area with the hopes of seeing one, I finally was able to spot the Snowy Owls with some timely tips from a friend.
While on a previous trip to spot the owls, I told my son that I wanted to get a photo of a Snowy Owl as it sat on the snow with some cornstalks in the foreground and from a perspective that was looking slightly up at the owl. Well, here is my photo of a Snowy Owl that is close to the one I dreamed of snapping... is just isn't as sharp as I would like.
... it was a quick shot and was slightly blurred by my unsteady hands. I wish I would have added to my dreaming that I wanted a sharp photo of the owl.
The experience of seeing these large white owls from the far north was spectacular, even though my photos didn't turn out to be anything great. Just look at the wingspan on that large owl as it flies low across the snow-covered fields.
The owl's wingspan must be close to 5 feet.
One of the Snowy Owls took a break from pretending it was out on the tundra and perched on the roof of a shed for a few minutes.
That's a big owl! You can see some truck tires leaning against the posts of the shed and use them to give some scale to the picture .
Here is a photo of a very white Snowy Owl sitting on a fence post.
Here is a photo of Snowy Owl winging off over the hill...
I spotted some Horned Larks facing the cold the other day.
What do these birds eat during the winter?
The larks I saw were happily eating weed seeds at the edges of fields and along the roadsides.
In the photo below, the Horned Lark was feeding on seeds that it had just shaken loose from the tall weed above its head. I missed the shot of the lark jumping up to grab hold of the weed stem with its beak and tugging on it to shake out some seeds. The bird's quick tug scattered the seeds on the snow where it was busily feeding when I finally was able to snap a photo.
In this next photo, a Horned Lark has left a scatter of seeds in the far right of the photo.
Why did we stop by the pond in the cold? We wanted to to visit the caterpillars that were hiding in the cattails all winter. Cattail Moth caterpillars spend the cold winter hidden in the cattail fluff, and amazingly, those caterpillars remain unfrozen despite sub-zero temperatures. What we like to do with a cattail moth caterpillar is pull it from the fluff, and hold in our hand... seconds later it will start crawling around (see the video below).
Some fluffy cattail seed spikes remain over the winter looking rather ragged and weather-beaten. The cattail's fluff looks like this because the cattail moth caterpillars have sewn up the fluff with silk to hold their home in place.
By gently tugging apart a cattail seed head, we find many of these cattail moth caterpillars.
These small, white caterpillars with brown stripes and dark heads blend in well with the cattail down.
Watch this video of a cattail moth caterpillar as it is pulled from its winter home and soon begins to crawl around on a warm hand.
In this next video, watch as seconds after the caterpillar was removed from its winter abode, it began to crawl around, despite the fact that the overnight temperature was well below zero only a couple of hours before.
You would think these caterpillars would be frozen solid, incapacitated, or even dead with how cold the winter has been. But, no, these caterpillars are designed to avoid freezing - and while they are at it, they help make a winter nature walk interesting.
Cattails by the frozen pond during a cold, snowy winter hold a secret, don't they?
A secret hidden under the snow-covered downy fluff.