Snowy owls got their share of the limelight when Hedwig stole the hearts of many in the popular Harry Potter series. A snowy owl wouldn't actually be able to carry a Nimbus 2000, but Hedwig certainly did so for our Harry Potter! She was the best snowy owl any wizard could probably have: a little moody at times; she always remained faithful and loyal to Harry Potter even during his troubled times.
This magnificently yellow-eyed, black billed white bird is highly recognizable. It is 53-65 cm (20-26 inches) long with a 125-150 cm (50-60 in) wingspan. Also, these birds can weigh anywhere from 1.8-3 kg (3.5-6.6 lbs). The adult male is virtually pure white, but females and young birds have some dark scalloping. Its thick plumage, heavily-feathered feet, and coloration render the Snowy Owl well-adapted for life north of the Arctic Circle.
Snowy Owl calls are varied, but the alarm call is a barking, almost quacking krek-krek; the female also has a softer mewling pyee-pyee or prlek-prlek. The song is a deep repeated gawh. They may also clap their beak in response to threats or annoyances. While called clapping, it is believed this sound may actually be a clicking of the tongue on the roof of the beak, not the beak itself.
Technical, 50% crop or so of a handheld shot using Sigma 150-500 at 1/50 & f8 @ 500mm. Out of the 9 I took, unsurprisingly 7 were hopelessly blurry; this is not without its faults but still striking enough. It was a very difficult shot to process because the whites wouldn't stay white without losing any hint of detail... I muddled through. Aesthetically I thought the red just round her eyelids was really disconcerting and not as pretty as I thought.
Kudos to the fantastic Screech Owl Sanctuary in Cornwall, which does an awesome job in rehabilitating injured owls and raising rare species. If you're in Cornwall, go and support them by paying them a visit.
If you're into owls, I did a kind of similar shot of an Eagle Owl which actually made it into explore - at www.flickr.com/photos/jingleslenobel/4915172257/in/set-72... The jury is still out for me as to which I prefer, they're both posers in their own ways :)
Sept 2010 - accepted into Pentax Premiere Collection - cool :)