Photo © Rob Curtis


There are only 13 documented records of a snowy owl in Texas in over a century of recordkeeping. Of the five rare Texas owl species, this is the only one I'm choosing to feature. Some observers, in low light, see the all-white undersides of the barn owl and misidentify it. Anyone claiming to see a snowy owl in Texas needs to snap a photo as proof. This might not be our nation’s largest owl by length (that honor goes to the great gray owl far to our north), but the snowy owl is the largest by weight. In winter, this tundra owl rarely dips down into the lower 48 states except when populations of their favored prey crash, forcing the birds to fill their bellies elsewhere. The strangest record in Texas goes to one photographed sitting on a balcony railing at an apartment in downtown Dallas in February 2012. It’s a good thing their wandering occurs during the cool of winter because I doubt this owl, covered in heavy down feathering, could survive a long stretch of warm Texas weather. Heading north before the hot Texas summer begins is a very smart thing to do. What a wise old owl!

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