From The “Frozen North” in Search Of The Bubo scandiacus

Well, actually it is not that far North, Southern Ontario, but it is January, it has snowed, it is -16C with a 40 kph wind blowing – it certainly feels like the frozen North.

I am on a workshop to shoot Snowy Owls.  This winter there is a very large over-population of Snowy Owls and sadly most will not make it back to the tundra for breeding.  I have struggled to get sharp in-flight images of birds and Chris Dodds has shown me a very different approach to my normal shooting which has provided excellent results in getting sharp in-flight images of Snowy Owls (Bubo scandiacus).

First there is the “Portrait” shot.  Here a Snowy landed on the ice of the frozen Lake Ontario immediately in front of me and posed there for a minute or two!  It is always good to get the portrait.


Then there is the sequence of a Snowy coming in for the grab, kicking up some snow as “lunch” is taken and the Snowy flies off without stopping.  The Snowy Owl is at it’s most vulnerable when it is coming in for prey.  Vulnerable to other Snowy Owls (especially with this season’s over-population) to other raptors.  It is worth noting that the Snowy closes its eyes as it makes the grab to protect them from flying snow or ice, as shown in the image below.

Snowy Owl Bubo scandiacus Richard King 14-001345.vv

Snowy Owl Bubo scandiacus Richard King 14-001346.vv

Snowy Owl Bubo scandiacus Richard King 14-001250.vv

There are always beautiful in flight…


This image really  made me think!  When on the ground you can see the Snowy Owl scanning the horizon, looking for predators, their heads swivel round 320 degrees without moving the body, I was really surprised to see that they do this in flight as well! …..

Snowy Owl Bubo scandiacus Richard King 14-000863.01

Lastly a “Grab” shot at the end of the day just as the sun is going down behind the horizon.


See My Complete Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) image gallery HERE

Gear: Nikon D4, Nikkor 600.0mm f/4 VRII, RRS Tripod & Gimbal Head, Lexar Digital Film, Sorel boots, North Face 700+ Parka

6 Responses to “From The “Frozen North” in Search Of The Bubo scandiacus”

  1. admin says:

    Thank you Bruce for your support as usual. Maybe the technique for flight images will be the subject of a future blog?

  2. admin says:

    Thank you Carl, hope you have had time to work on your images. It would be great to catch up in Titusville, if possible.

  3. admin says:

    Many thanks for your kind words Randy. Is there somewhere I can go to visit your images?

  4. Randy Hough says:

    Nice work Richard I love what you did with the first shot in your developing

  5. Carl Bilancione says:

    Great portrait! your sequence images are excellent

  6. Bruce KAY says:

    Superb pics Richard and a fascinating story to go with it.
    I would have liked learning more about the new technique for in-flight shots.
    What beautiful birds they are.

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