|Visitor from the Arctic (photo by Lynne Pharis)|
In front of us stretched the marine shoreline that borders Boundary Bay in British Colombia. About every 50 feet, a white form dominated the setting, standing sentinel from a log that barely lifted it above the lowland that it watched. We first saw a group of three Snowy Owls in the distance, then, by walking down the path, came to a series of regularly spaced solitary owls, each staking out its own territory.
|Three Snowy owls stand sentinel (photo by Lynne Pharis)|
I stared. The owl stayed put, moving only his head. He peered intently in one direction at a time, to the west, to the southwest, to the east, and back to the west, to the northeast, and occasionally, to my delight, towards me, where I stood with a clutch of birders. He had that "teacher's eye" that made us be still and try to not disturb him. He looked surprsingly soft and well fed, plumper than any bird I've ever seen that flies. I found it hard to gauge from a distance how tall he was, sitting on a log that was once a gigantic northwest tree. The reference books gives their average height at 24 inches. His plumage was royally white with dark wing tips. He looked like he could be flying off momentarily to an aristocratic avian ball. He had the self confidence to hold court.
|A juvenile Snowy Owl (photo by Lynne Pharis)|
|George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary vista (photo by Sky Hedman)|