I wish you all a festive celebration, with no lucubrations but plenty of libations. Two readers have sent animal-themed greetings to the rest of us.
Tom sent a photo of a gorgeous snowy owl that he took yesterday at Wolfe Island, Ontario. I’ve superimposed his caption on the photo to make it into a card:
I had 14 Snowys out there yesterday. Based on the eBird info (plus my observations in the field yesterday), as varied as the plumages were, it’s a pretty good/scientific guess they all were hatched last summer in the eastern Arctic. Like many large raptor species around the world, Snowy Owls are quite variable — lightly to heavily marked. But also, like many other species, there are a combo of proportions, size, and plumage that can be used (carefully, but not completely) to age and sex them. They exhibit sexual dimorphism, with the females being larger than the males.
At the risk of being a downer, I can’t help but add this photo from The Bruce Mactavish Birding Blog (also noted by Tom), showing a Snowy Owl nest with unhatched eggs—and 70 killed lemmings! They sure know how to stock up!
And reader Vera sent a lovely and foxy painting that was created by one of her relatives:
This is a painting by my great-uncle Count Vladimir Leonidovich Mouraviov, my maternal grandfather’s brother, who was a professional painter specializing in nature, wildlife and hunting scenes in the Russian wild. Unlike my grandfather, Vladimir chose not to leave Russia after the Revolution and continued to paint. His work was very popular and continues to fetch a very high price. He died in 1940, the same year that my grandfather died.
I thought you might like to have this reproduction of one of his paintings of a Russian fox! Season’s greetings to you all!