The amazing yellow eyes are fixed in bone rings, meaning the bird must move its head to see in different directions. The result is a remarkable 270-degree twisting of the neck to scan the surroundings. The lemon yellow is said to act like a filter to block the bright glare of sun off of snow.Note the almost flat profile of the face, the deeply-set eyes, and the disc-like feather pattern surrounding the eyes. This facial disc acts to direct sound waves towards the ears. The ears, meanwhile, are hidden under the feathers. Like a radar dish, the owl’s face, including its downward bill, force sound towards the ears. Some owl species have asymmetrical skulls: one ear-hole is higher than the other, the difference helping to triangulate the little scamper of, say, voles under the snow. Snowys don’t seem to have this pronounced difference, but their hearing is still very acute. They hunt in the unending daylight of the Arctic Summer and the long darkness of the Arctic Winter. Down here, they rest during the day and hunt at night. Animals as big as Arctic foxes are their prey.
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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.