fine feathers: the snowy owl

As we get to know the new year, we'd like to pay homage to one of our feathered friends – the snowy owl. From their coloring to symbolic significance, the snowy owl welcomes the new year in all the right ways:

1. White like the split second of snowfall we saw this past week, the snowy owl's coloring is one of their most intriguing attributes. While their coloring does help them hide in icy landscapes, few snowy owls are purely white. Females and young birds often have dark scalloping. Males even boast a few dark spots from time to time. The really cool thing is that the male usually becomes whiter with age, but they do say that wisdom comes with age.

2. They're unique in more ways than just their coloring. Unlike other owls, the snowy owl is diumal, meaning that they're active during both day and night.

3. They're nomads. A kindred adventurer, the snowy owl likes to travel. While they normally stay put in the northernmost parts of Alaska, Canada and Eurasia, they'll travel southward when prey is not abundant – even moving down into northern United States. They also do this in style, hanging out at airports along the way, perhaps because the large, open spaces remind them of their home in the tundra.

4. They're quiet. Also unlike other owls, the snowy owl rarely makes vocalizations outside of breeding season. While we're all about a good chat, it's neat that they take a little time for r&r, too.

5. The snowy owl is symbolic of the new year. Like all owls, they're often thought to symbolize death, which, in turn, symbolizes rebirth, renewal and new beginnings. We'll cheers to that, snowy owl!