[Tweeters] Queen Anne Snowy Owl

Paul Bannick paul.bannick at gmail.com
Fri Dec 4 08:18:50 PST 2020

Hi Greg,

While it is tempting, even fun to guess at the gender of Snowy Owls through
visual observations in the field, it is extremely difficult. Even
experienced Snowy Owl researchers make mistakes when trying to do this. It
is true that the most mature males are generally whiter and have fewer dark
markings, juveniles are much darker with more markings and mature females
fall in between, there are too many exceptions for this to be a foolproof
method. There are examples of females with plumage lighter than the
average males and males that appeared darker than females. To make matters
more complicated we do not know how long it takes adults to reach what we
think of as their complete adult plumage.

The majority of owls that we see in the Puget Sound during irruptions such
at Ocean Shores several years ago, are likely juveniles.

The most reliable way to distinguish them in the field is to see them
engaged in gender specific behavior on the breeding grounds. Absent that
opportunity, to have any measure of confidence you would or have them
in-hand and measure plumage patterns and molts.

That said it is still fun to watch them and guess.


On Thu, Dec 3, 2020 at 7:51 PM Greg Pluth <gjpluth at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hey all you most illustrious Tweets -


> Who among you can state most unequivocally and most definitively the sex

> of the immature owl of recent Queen Anne fame? I was able to observe the

> several birds at Damon Point some years back, it was easy to seperate those

> with decidedly more dark feathers on the crown and forehead from those with

> comparatively fewer across only the top of the crown. These latter were

> considered male. And this is why I believe the Queen Anne bird to be male.


> Many at Queen Anne talked more about only the dark feathering on the

> breast and belly, which I concur can be further markings to consider. Maybe

> the answer is that it cannot be stated with absolute sureness?


> So what say thee, most illustrious of you?


> Eager to hear,

> Greg Pluth

> University Place

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