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Snow Owl July 2003


Photo Copyright © Jared Hobbs 

The Northern Saw-whet Owl is a very small, short-bodied, Owl with a relatively short tail. The overly large head has no ear tufts and may appear distorted due to an asymmetrical skull. They look small when perched and tend to shuffle their feet, but in flight appear larger because of their broad wings. 
The facial disk has brownish and whitish radials around the edge, which fade to a whitish area around the eyes. There is also a dark area from the base of the bill to the bottom inside edge of each eye. The rest of the head is brownish to grey-brown and densely covered with white streaks, especially on the forehead. The eyes are large and bright yellow-orange. The bill is black. 
Plumage is quite fluffy and brownish or reddish brown overall streaked with white underneath and spotted on the back. Flight feathers are spotted white. The legs and feet are light buff and heavily feathered. The toes are lightly feathered and the claws are dark horn with blackish tips. 

The sharp-shinned hawk is a small accipiter about the size of a bluejay. The sharp-shinned hawk can be easily confused with the Cooper's hawk, but the smaller size and squared tail can help to recognize it from the Cooper's hawk which is about the size of a crow and has a rounded tail.
Sharp-shinned hawks are fierce, bold hunters that prey primarily on small birds. They hunt either by cruising through wooded areas or dense brush and flushing small birds and then overtaking them in flight; or by sitting on a perch and watching for unsuspecting prey. Once prey is captured, the sharp-shinned hawk takes it to a site known as the "butcher block" or "plucking perch" where the prey is plucked and then eaten. The most commonly taken avian prey is the robin due to its easy catchability.

This is a light colored owl with small ear tufts that are seldom visible. It is about 36 cm (14 in.) long. In flight, the large, round, seemingly neckless head and dark patches on the underside of the wings are easily seen.
The short-eared owl is especially equipped to hunt and survive on the prairie. It survived in that grassy landscape by hunting from a hover and building a nest on the ground, the only Illinois owl to do so.
Photo Source Unknown    
Photo Source Unknown
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Snowy Owls breed on the arctic tundra of both Eurasia and North America . The Canadian breeding range includes the islands of the Arctic Archipelago , from Ellesmere Island in the north, to Baffin Island in the east, to Banks Island in the west, and along the northern coast of the continent from the Yukon to Labrador .
Some Snowy Owls remain over the winter in the areas where they nest. Owls have been seen in midwinter as far north as 82° on Ellesmere Island , where darkness is continuous at this season. Snowy Owls also migrate to more southerly latitudes. In certain parts of their wintering range (on the prairies of western Canada and in the unforested parts of southern Ontario and Quebec, as well as in adjacent regions of the northern United States), they are regular visitors, although their numbers vary from year to year. In other wintering areas, along the Pacific coast of Canada and the northern United States and in the Atlantic Provinces and New England , their occurrence is less regular. In these regions, a winter with a large number of owls may be followed by several years in which none are seen. It is mostly first-year birds that visit these less frequented areas, with relatively few adult owls appearing. Individual Snowy Owls have been recorded as far south as central California , Texas , and Georgia , but such records are exceptional.


A medium large, sooty black Owl with very large, dark eyes set in a round racial disc. The upperparts are sooty black, finely spotted white on the head with larger but sparser white spots on the wings. The Facial disc is large, round and sooty black through to dark grey or silver and is heavily edged black. The underparts vary from sooty black to dark grey, (never as dark as the upperparts) finely spotted with white. The Belly is always paler than the breast. The tail is very short, the legs feathered and eyes very large with a black iris. A Sooty Owl's Bill is horn coloured and feathered almost to the tip. Toes are dark grey and the large talons black. Sexes are similar in plumage and Females are usually slightly larger than males. They are distinguished from lesser Sooty Owls by much larger size and darker plumage, sparser white spots on upperparts and darker underparts which have white spots on a dark background where the lesser Sooty Owl has dark chevrons on a pale background.

Length about 10 inches; one of the best known and handsomest, as well as smallest, of North American hawks. Breeds throughout the United States , Canada , and northern Mexico ; winters in the United States and south to Guatemala .
The sparrow hawk, a true falcon, lives in the more open areas and builds its nest in hollow trees. It is often found where telephone and power poles afford it convenient perching and feeding places, and may be seen hovering high over its intended prey. Its food consists of insects, small mammals, birds, spiders, and reptiles. Grasshoppers, crickets, terrestrial beetles, and caterpillars make up considerably more than half its subsistence, while field mice, house mice, and shrews cover fully 25 percent of its annual supply.


Also called the Black Hawk, Brown Hawk, Grasshopper hawk. 
Often hunts in flocks, for grasshoppers and crickets. Sometimes waits for a ground squirrel or pocket gopher to appear at the entrance of its burrow. Attracted to swarms of flies and bats. Takes all kinds of small mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.


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