Animal Spotlight: Snowy Owl
Whoooo’s “Not” Cold?
We may be layering up by the fire in these cold temperatures, but snowy owls are quite comfortable perched on the snow during Pennsylvania winters. Their dense feathers cover their entire body, including their toes! These arctic birds have no trouble with temperatures as low as -40°F. While they naturally like wide open spaces, they may crouch behind an object to block wind. There are often reports of snowy owls being spotted at airports as they perch on buildings to look out over nearby fields for rodents.
Our personal snowy owl residents at ZooAmerica are Rinna and Nash. Rinna is a 14-year-old female that came to us in 2009 from a zoo in Tallinn, Estonia. While she is known to be a laid back owl that will calmly watch her keepers, she will warn you if you’re too close to her nest in the Spring. Eleven-year-old Nash came to Hershey from the Nashville Zoo in 2019. The pair gets along quite well - and we have our fingers crossed for chicks one year! Nash is fiercely protective of Rinna from May through July. Two zookeepers will cautiously take care of their habitat. We are sure to give him all the space he needs to feel that Rinna and any future chicks are safe.
The winter is the best time to observe these beautiful raptors – if you can find them! Their white plumage camouflages them well on snowy days. The beautiful yellow eyes on Nash will give him away on the pure white snow. He also has a few speckles of brown on his tail. Rinna is easier to find due to her spotted feathers. They are fed in the morning before the zoo opens, as snowy owls are diurnal – meaning they are active in the daytime.
Viewing tip: Stop by at 10 a.m. to possibly catch a glimpse of these birds of prey finishing their favorite foods: quail, mice and rats.