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The Snowy Owl Visits Q.A.

Bubo scandiacus, the scientific name for the snowy owl, has been spotted in Queen Anne. 

A rare snowy owl has been spotted in Queen Anne and it’s bringing people out of their houses to see nature at work. Lucky for all of us, snowy owls are not on lockdown. The Coe Times spotted the owl blocks from Coe Elementary a few days before Thanksgiving. A group of bird watchers with cameras and binoculars gathered to catch a glimpse of this rare bird. We got to work researching this incredible animal so we could tell you more about it. The snowy owl comes from the Arctic Tundra, the area that circles the North Pole. Unlike more common owls, this one is diurnal. (That's the opposite of nocturnal.) That puts them on the same time schedule that we are on. Scientists think the snowy owl is here in search of food. "Snowy owls are mostly migratory and we are not too far away from their normal path [in] Eastern Washington," says Paul Bannick, a photographer who has been taking photos of owls for over 20 years and has a new book out called "Snowy Owl: A Visual Natural History".

         But it's not very common to have them in Queen Anne. That's one of the reasons why people from all over the state are coming to view the beautiful creature! Researchers we met when we first saw the owl believe the owl hanging around Queen Anne is not a baby or what they call a ‘juvenile’ owl. Younger snowy owls tend to be darker and the one in our area is bright white. And its eyes are bright yellow. At first we thought our camera flash had messed up our photo but its eyes are really bright yellow. That is also a sign that it is diurnal.        When we managed to get a look at this owl, it was unbelievable. “This is a once and a lifetime bird,” said one man who had traveled from the Olympic Peninsula when he heard about the Queen Anne visitor. The owl has given a lot of people hope during the pandemic.

In fact, people in Queen Anne have named the owl Hope.

Photo caption: Hope, the snowy owl of Queen Anne, atop a roof on 1st Street. Photo credit: Matteo M. 

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