Lynda Goff Photography
In late February 2022, I joined Matthew Studebaker and several other wildlife photographers on a trip to the farmlands near Sault Sainte Marie Michigan to capture images of Snowy Owls. This year was a particularly good year for these owls and over a week, we followed and photographed about 15 individuals over several hundred square miles of snow covered, wind whipped farm roads and fields. Most of these individuals were likely younger owls, pushed out of their more northern winter habitats by other owls. The individuals displayed considerable variation in feather marking with some nearly white and others with copious black/brown pigmented markings on back, tail and wings. For the most part, the owls we photographed were hunting during the early, extremely cold mornings (-12F was the coldest) and again in the late afternoon. Watching and listening for movement under the snow, they approach their prey by a soundless glide very close to the ground. At the last moment, they rotate their feet out exposing their incurved talons and lastly extend their talons before grabbing the prey through the snow. At the point of impact, they close their eyes. With prey and eyes open, they blast out of the snow, sending plumes of snow behind them as they jet off to enjoy their meal.