Back to Nature (Published on - Aug. 2, 2007)
Harry Potter’s Snowy Owl - Nyctea scandiaca
Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  
First Year Snowy Owl on Fence Post
Millions of children and adults awaited to learn the fate of Harry Potter in the seventh and final novel of author J.K. Rowling's series.

Fans camped outside book stores to be the first in line to receive their copy of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”. It was reported one fan read the entire book in just forty five minutes ... and yes remembered the details.

The Canadian and Associated Press reported, “In the U.S., it sold a mountainous 8.3 million copies in its first 24 hours on sale there, according to Scholastic Inc. No other book, not even any of the six previous Potters, has been so desired, so quickly. Deathly Hallows averaged more than 50,000 sales a minute.”

Conservationists are hopeful that Harry Potter fans go on to remember the owls helping out their wizard owners, such as: Hedwig, Harry Potter’s pet Snowy Owl.

The large, white, easily distinguished, Snowy Owl is North America’s heaviest owl.  The Snowy Owl’s body is 23 – 28 inches long. The larger female is more heavily barred, while the adult males, especially older males, may be pure white.

Juveniles are much darker and heavily marked. Besides the obvious white feathers this owl is distinguished by its round head and yellow eyes. Snowy Owls have very long, powerful wings and possess amazing powers of flight. The Snowy Owl’s legs and feet are covered in thick fur-like feathers.

Snowy owls are not considered threatened by the International World Conservation Union, but populations in northern Europe and Alaska seem to be on the decline.

David Sibley notes in the Sibley Guide to Birds, “Individuals seen far to the south of normal range are often starved and stressed for food and thus active in daylight.”

Since population growth of the Snowy Owl is closely integrated to the population rise and fall of the owl’s most popular food, the lemming, hard data is difficult to obtain.

The Nature Conservancy Fun facts about owls:

- There are 19 species of owls that live in North America, more than 150 species around the world.

- Owls mate for life.

- Owls are found on all continents except Antarctica.

- Female owls are larger and heavier than the males of their species.

- Owls can twist their heads almost three-quarters of the way around without moving their bodies.

- Owls have three eyelids. The upper lid closes when an owl blinks and the lower closes when an owl sleeps. The third, a thin layer of tissue, moves diagonally across the eye from the inside to the outside, cleaning the eye.

- Some owls have one ear higher than the other, giving them excellent hearing that allows them to pinpoint the location of their prey.

- Most owls are nocturnal, except for a few species such as the Snowy Owl which hunts during daylight hours. Most owls hunt at night so they do not cast shadows that could alert rodents and other prey as they descend from the sky.

- Owls’ feathers are designed to muffle the sound of their flying, making them excellent hunters capable of sneaking up on their prey. Because owls are almost silent while in flight, it also allows them to hear and locate their prey.

- Owls are raptors, meaning they hunt other living things for their food. They are extraordinarily helpful to humans, helping control the rodent population.

- Some owls are known to hunt and eat animals as large as cats.

Parents, teachers, and mentors, take this monumental opportunity to expand upon the international Harry Potter craze. Explore the world of this white powerhouse, the Snowy Owl...back to nature.

For more information view Snowy Owls Hunting In Northern Alberta on You Tube:

Karen can be reached at

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