Snowy Owls

Snowy owls, (Bubo scandiaus), are not native to western Montana, nor to any of the lower 48 U.S. States. These birds summer in their arctic breeding grounds; while they often migrate south for winter, typically they don't come south of the U.S./Canadian border. However, for reasons not well understood, we have periodic irruptions of these birds, when they appear along the norther tier of U.S. States (and sometimes much farther south). In early 2006 we had a large irruption here in N.W. Montana. In early 2012 we had another, although of fewer birds than in 2006. These are magnificent birds, with wing spans up to 62 inches (157cm).

We got a few photos during the 2006 irruption. In January through March of 2012, we spent parts of several days each week photographing the owls, and brought home many more “keeper” pictures.

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Three snowy owls on a boulder pile

A trio of snowy owls on a boulder pile in soft, early-morning light, March, 2012.