Mystery Bird: Snowy Owl, Bubo scandiacus

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[Mystery bird] Snowy Owl, Bubo scandiacus, photographed on the Fort Pierre National Grasslands in South Dakota. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]

Image: Terry Sohl, 4 January 2009 [larger view]

Photo taken with a Canon 50D, 400 5.6L.

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.

As an added bonus, can you tell me if this bird is a juvenile or adult, male or female?

Review all mystery birds to date.

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Heh. As the father of two children currently asleep after they went to the midnight showing of HP5, I can say with complete confidence that that is a snowy owl, and that its name is Hedwig. :-)

I'll guess it's an adult female, but I think a first-year male is also a possibility.

I think this is probably a juvenile male. I can't see any evidence of "old" primary or secondary feathers in the wing -- they all appear equally unworn. I can't find any info specific to Snowy Owls, but what little I could find for Great Horneds suggests that remiges persist for several years. If that's true for Snowys, then on an older bird we should see two or more generations of flight feathers.
If anyone has more specific info on Snowy's molt patterns, please say so!