The snowy owl blinks. Sitting on her perch in the cold Canadian forest, she refuses to shiver lest she reveal her presence. Listening. Waiting for a flicker of movement. The snow surface shows a slight tremor, betraying the presence of a burrowing rodent. First the owl hears it, then she sees it. Launching silently from her roost, spreading her wings into a labored flap, and a final soar. Gliding. Focusing. Talons extended, she crashes through the surface of the snow, hoping to grasp the warm vole in her claws...But not this time. The mammal shrieks and dives into the tangle of undergrowth. A victory for the vole, a tragedy of uncompensated energy for the owl. The vole will survive the night, but the owl will be hungry, and so will her children. At least for now.
Scot Bastian Ph.D. is a scientist and artist who lives in Seattle WA.