The Snowy Owl invasion is astonishing. Fifteen were sighted in Brooklyn on the Christmas Bird Count on the 21st, an unprecedented number. We saw four this past Saturday. This particular bird was flushed by a couple walking across the grasslands, where they shouldn’t have been (but all the signs have disappeared). The flushing meant it flew closer to us. On landing, the bird held up its wings as if it was mantling, a raptor characteristic that may be about covering prey from pirates. There was no prey, as far as we could tell. But there was a Peregrine Falcon, coming out of nowhere, as they are won’t to. Although rather smaller than the owl, it made two passes. Hard to get a break when you’re an owl: nobody else likes you, baring many of us awe-struck humans.This one kept its mouth open, showing the rather big gape of the bill, which is usually hidden away in the facial feathers. If I had been closer, the red lining of the mouth would be visible. Not particularly vocal birds, they seem to use this display as a warning to pesky falcons and humans. We were on the other side of the runway and doing our best to hurry past. Forgive us, Arctic giant.
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This work by Matthew Wills is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.