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Snowy Owl video: hearing test

Posted on Dec 21, 2013

You may have seen my recent blog entry with Snowy Owl photos depicting a “day” in the life of the species, and that very cooperative bird was sitting around long enough for me to take some HD video of it as well. It was initially not exactly the most riveting footage in history as it looked over its shoulder and away from the camera continuously (plenty shall remain unseen). However, when I wiped some snow off my jacket while I stood behind the camera it made for an unintentionally awesome hearing test.

The owl clearly heard the soft wiping noise I made from a considerable distance away and far off the ground. It immediately jerked its head around and I noticed it, too. I made an even lighter intentional movement with my jacket while hardly moving my body and the owl looked directly at me. I stopped so as not to bother it in the slightest and it went right back to ignoring me as described in that previous post.

Nevertheless I thought this was an astounding display of its powerful sense of hearing and shows you how skillfully they can locate the very tiny feet of their prey scurrying beneath deep snow. They may go after large rats on exposed rocks on our shores or ducks swimming in our harbors but the smallest and most secretive mammals can be captured using this phenomenal ability. And we think we have keen senses…


Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator

Video © Scott Kruitbosch