A Snowy Owl was seen the first week of January on Hwy. 49, at the Horicon Marsh. The sighting of the Snowy Owl at Horicon Marsh was spotted on the east end of the highway. If you’re a “Harry Potter” fan, you’ll recall that Hedwig was a snowy owl.
Snowy owls are 2 feet tall, round-headed whitish owls that spend most of their lives in Alaska or Canada. They breed in the farthest north of the tundra, where they can fill up on their favorite prey, lemmings – the generic name for a couple of dozen tundra rodents related to voles.
During most winters snowy owls keep to their side of the 49th parallel, though in any given year there always are dozens of birds that wander south into Wisconsin. This yellow-eyed, black-beaked white bird is easily recognizable. It is 20–28 in long, with a 49–59 in wingspan.
Also, these birds can weigh anywhere from 3.5 to 6.6 lb. It is one of the largest species of owl and, in North America, is on average the heaviest owl species. The adult male is virtually pure white, but females and young birds have some dark scalloping; the young are heavily barred, and dark spotting may even predominate.
Snowy Owls, like many other birds, swallow their small prey whole. Strong stomach juices digest the flesh, while the indigestible bones, teeth, fur, and feathers are compacted into oval pellets that the bird regurgitates 18 to 24 hours after feeding.
They are big, beautiful birds, and not that common. This winter is shaping up to be a banner year for snowy owl sightings in Wisconsin if this sighting of a Snowy Owl at Horicon Marsh is only the first.