Friday, September 30, 2011

You can save penguins wherever you live with an iPhone App

It's funny the little memories that remain with you from childhood. I remember different toys I had, games I played and songs I listened to. One song I remember from my childhood was Don Spencer's "Fairy Penguin Strut". Putting my arms down straight, my hands out flat and shuffling around the lounge room in front of the television.

Penguins are fascinating animals. In my experience not everyone realizes that they are classified as birds. They have feathers, a beak and lay eggs as all birds do. Some species of penguin spend up to 75% of their time in water. Fiordland crested penguins sometimes grow barnacles on their tails, one clear indication that they are at sea for long periods. They are obviously faster in the water than on land they can swim about 24km/h (15mph). They have adapted over time to life in the water as their wings have become flipper like, their feathers are densely packed for insulation. They are one of the few birds to have solid, dense bones. This allows them to overcome buoyancy so they can dive to catch krill, squid and fish.

All penguins live in the Southern Hemisphere in Antarctica, around the coast of South America, South Africa, Galapagos, Southern Australia and New Zealand. Therefore Coke got in wrong in their advert as penguins and polar bears won't meet since polar bears live in the Northern Hemisphere.

Volunteering as a guide at the Toronto Zoo for the last year also assured me that children, as well as adults, today are still fascinated by these cute aquatic birds as I was as a child. In 2011 Toronto Zoo open a 60,000 square feet enclosure with underwater viewing area to house their new 12 African Penguins (also known as Jackass Penguins). African Penguins, like others of the 17 species of penguin,  are endangered. The African Penguin's present population is probably less than 10% of that in 1900, when there was estimated to be about 1.5 million birds on Dassen Island alone. By 1956 the population had fallen to roughly half that in 1900, and had halved again by the late 1970s, when there was an estimated 220,000 adult birds. By the late 1980s the number had dropped to about 194,000 and in the early 1990s there was an estimated 179,000 adult birds. Breeding no longer occurs at 10 localities where it formerly occurred or has been suspected to occur. The good news is that populations are now 19% larger then they would have been if conservation efforts had not started.

Habitat destruction is one of the threats to these African Penguins and if you don't live in South Africa it's easy to feel that there is little you can do. However another major threat to penguin survival is over fishing within the habitat. Over fishing not only affects the African Penguin but also many of the species living in Antarctica. The Circumpolar Sea, what some call the Southern Ocean, has a long history of human over-exploitation. Fur seals, elephant seals, and the great whales were all hunted to the brink of extinction. Now commercial fishing is threatening the penguins and other wildlife in the area. A great documentary was sent to me to preview before it's release a couple of years ago and if you haven't seen it, hunt it down. The 2009 documentary called "End of the Line" follows a group of people around the world exploring exactly the state of fish populations are around the globe as well as the happenings of the fishing industry.

Supporting sustainable fishing is something we can do in every country.

There are different organisations that have released guides to help you recognise fish from populations that are well managed and sustainable and avoid supporting companies that are still over-fishing. You can download the guides or even better, there are applications available for iPhones that are easy to use when out doing your grocery shopping or at a restaurant

While living in Canada and the U.S.A I use the Monterey Bay Aquarium App called Seafood Watch. To find out more visit

For Australia, Greenpeace has a great canned tuna guide at
The app I use when home in Australia is the Seafood Guide from Australian Marine Conservation Society. Check out their site for other versions of the guide at

For all other countries click here to have the comprehensive list of available guides for many countries at the WWF Global site.

If you adore penguins as much as I do, then making sustainable seafood choices is one simple action you can take, in every country in the world to ensure their food supplies aren't diminished. That way your children and grandchildren will also get to witness the funny penguin strut.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Is Australia losing it's koalas?

Today National Geographic News published a story explaining how Australia is at risk of losing all koalas. Click here for the full story.

I must admit that koala conservation isn't something I had heard a lot about. I completed a search on the Australian sites of WWF and Greenpeace and not much came up. IUCN lists koalas as Least Concern but the US Fish and Wildlife Service has declared them as a threatened species. Looking at Australian listings and it seems as though the Federal Government currently has them as not threatened. In the four states where they are found Queensland and Victoria state they are thriving, South Australia says they are rare about from on Kangaroo Island and New South Wales lists koalas as as vulnerable, but varying regionally from secure to locally extinct.

The Australian Koala Foundation, a non-profit, non-government organisation dedicated to the conservation and effective management of the wild koala and its habitat, states on their website that koalas definitely are threatened. From recent research it appears that about 43,000 to 80,000 koalas remain in the wild. Find out more from them at

It is clear that research needs to be carried out to get a clear picture on koalas populations. The threats to the population are many including habitat loss for housing, road accidents, dog attacks, bush fires and chlamydia. None of these factors are on the decline so the need for this research is immediate. This is clearly recommended in the Senate Inquiry:

If Australians aren't going to save the koala, the country might as well close down the AFL, take Weet-bix and Vegemite of the breakfast table and get rid of our thongs and BBQs!

A new documentary covering caring for koalas:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Are you tying your laces correctly?

Today was a monumental day. I learnt to tie my shoe laces at age seven when my parents visited overseas for a week and a friend's mother refused to tie my laces for me. Finally I knew how to tie them but now I have learnt I was taught the incorrect way! This happened to the below presenter, Terry Moore, at age 50.

Check out this video to make sure you are tying your laces the best way:

For more insightful information, check out

Monday, September 26, 2011

Animal Of The Week: Dragonfly

Amongst the insect word, dragonflies stand out as being wondrous, almost angelic in the way they will suddenly appear, and then vanish as quickly as they came. They are characterised by their multi-faceted eyes with about 30,000 lenses giving them an almost 360 degree view, longs bodies, wings perpendicular from their bodies and six legs. There form has obviously served them well since they have existed for 300 million years. They are valuable predators, with a diet consisting of mosquitoes, flies, bees, wasps and occasionally butterflies.

Dragonfly wings are transparent with the hind wing being larger than the forewing. These wings are controlled by powerful muscles which can move independently of each other. A dragonfly beats its wings at about 30 beats per second. For comparison, a bee beats its wings about 300 times per second. Dragonflies can move sideways and backwards, straight up and down, and can hover in place like a helicopter. They are reputed to be some of the fastest insects in the world. One scientist, Robert Tillyard, believed he had measured a species of dragonfly, the Southern Giant Darner, flying about 97km/h (60m/h). However the general consensus is the average top speed of a dragonfly is 35-55km/h (22-34m/h) with a general cruising speed around 16km/h (10m/h). Some dragonflies can fly for great distances. For example, swarms of one species, the Wandering Gliders, have been spotted over the Atlantic Ocean hundreds of miles from land.

The lifecycle of a dragonfly can take several years but very little of that time is as an adult. A male and female mate while in the air and the female will lay her eggs on a water plant. Should she not be able to find a suitable plant she will simply drop them into the water. Once the young hatch they are referred to as nymphs. They are yet to have wings and will remain in the water until they have grown to their adult form. Some dragonflies if developed in the winter will wait till the warmer spring to take their first flight. Dragonfly nymphs will be found in lakes or marshes where the water is stiller than a river or stream.

The nymphs capture their food by means of a hinged lower lip that can be flipped forward to trap prey on stiff bristles. The lip can be extended about a third of the length of the larva's body, giving them enough reach to even capture small fish. Larvae breathe by means of gills inside the anal chamber, into which water is pumped, then forcibly expelled.

Once a nymph is ready to leave the water, and the weather is right, it will crawl out on to a plant, gulp air to inflate their body and shed it’s to begin life as an adult dragonfly. During this time it will hunt and look for a mate. The average lifespan of an adult dragonfly is about two months.

The good news is there is only one species of dragonfly that is endangered, the Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly. Historically, this stunning green dragonfly was found only in Ohio and Indiana. Today, the Hine's Emerald Dragonfly can only be found in small sites in Cook, DuPage, and Will counties in Illinois, and in Door County, Wisconsin. The greatest threats to this dragonfly as well as all other species would be loss of wetland habitats and poisoning via pesticides and pollutants in the water.

The dragonfly is an important insect to preserve. In nymph form it is a vital food source for other aquatic animals and in adult form it plays vital roles in controlling other insects such as mosquitoes in wetland areas. The presence of dragonflies also indicates local water quality. Culturally the dragonfly plays a significant role. One example is a great story I came across for a eulogy at a funeral to comfort those who feel they have lost contact with the one that has passed on.

The Dragonfly Eulogy
Once, in a little pond, in the muddy water under the lily pads, there lived a little water bug in a community of water bugs. They lived a simple and comfortable life in the pond with few disturbances or interruptions. Once in a while, sadness would come to the community when one of their fellow bugs would climb the stem of a lily pad and would never be seen again. They knew when this happened, their friend was dead, gone forever.

Then, one day, one little water bug felt an irresistible urge to climb up that stem. However, he was determined that he would not leave forever. He would come back and tell his friends what he had found at the top. When he reached the top and climbed out of the water onto the surface of the lily pad, he was so tired, and the sun felt so warm, that he decided he must take a nap. As he slept, his body changed and when he woke up, he had turned into a beautiful blue-tailed dragonfly with broad wings and a slender body designed for flying.

So, fly he did! And, as he soared he saw the beauty of a whole new world and a far superior way of life to what he had never known existed. Then he remembered his bug friends and how they were thinking by now he was dead. He wanted to go back to tell them, and explain to them that he was now more alive than he had ever been before. His life had been fulfilled rather than ended. But, his new body would not go down into the water. He could not get back to tell his friends the good news. Then he understood that their time would come, when they, too, would know what he now knew. So, he raised his wings and flew off into his joyous new life!

Dragonfly Medicine
There is one myth that dragonflies were once dragons, with scales as transparent and beautiful as a dragonfly’s wings. Dragons would fly through the night bringing light with their fiery breath. Coyote challenged and tricked the dragon to change it’s form to that of the dragonfly. In accepting the challenge to prove the challenge to prove it’s power and magical prowess, dragon lost his ability and remained as a dragonfly.

The archangel Ariel/Uriel is one of the four most powerful angels. Ariel is the ruler of the element of Earth, planet Pluto and psychic development . Ariel uses the dragonfly as a messenger to appear before people he wishes to connect with. If a dragonfly presents itself to you, Ariel may be trying to give you a mnessage.

Around the world the dragonfly is a positive symbol. To the Japanese, it symbolizes summer and autumn and is admired and respected so much so that the Samurai use it as a symbol of power, agility and best of all, victory. In China, people associate the dragonfly with prosperity, harmony and as a good luck charm. Amongst Native Americans, it is a sign of happiness, speed and purity. Purity because the dragonfly eats from the wind itself.

If dragonfly has come into your life recently you are encouraged to explore what you can change or transform about yourself. Have you put on too much weight, have you overloaded your life or are you forgetting to be grateful for what you have? If you feel the need to change, call on dragonfly to aid your transformation.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Perth could lose it's own wildlife within weeks

I’ve been very fortunate so far in my life to live and visit many different places around the world. However Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz was spot on when she said, “There’s no place like home”. For myself home is Perth, one of the most remote cities in the world and famous for some world class wines and stunning beaches.

I often devote my energy and attention to the plights of animals around the world, the rhinos in Africa, the Orang utans in Borneo and Northern Sumatra, the polar bears in the Arctic Circle. However what about the wildlife back at home? Do you know what’s happening in your home city?

When I left Perth about six years ago, Joondalup was as far as you went north and to get to the quaint town of Mandurah, there wasn’t a train line to get there, just a wearisome drive. In Perth, just a few years later this is no longer the case as the city has witnessed immense urban sprawl. If you aren’t familiar with Perth, the rate at which bushland was cleared for development between 2001 and 2009 was the size of ten cricket ovals a week.

Perth is abundant with beautiful animal and plants, some which are found nowhere else in the world. Astonishingly, there are more plant species in the Greater Perth Floristic District than the entire British Isles, an area over 20 times larger. The Perth and Peel regions and the rest of the Southwest Australia are considered as important to the world’s biodiversity as the Galapagos or the Amazon rainforest.

The now endangered Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo (picture above) is endemic to southwest Western Australia. Their population has halved in the last 45 years due to habitat fragmentation and the removal of nest hollows for use as firewood or just to make properties look “tidy”. Much bushland now lacks hollows as it takes over 100 years for seedlings to mature and form hollows suitable for nesting for the Cockatoo. Furthermore, other bird species such as the Galah and the Western Long-billed Corella are extending their range across the wheatbelt and out competing the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo. Australia’s love an underdog, so we have to back this poor bird.

Another local is the poor Turtle Frog (pictured below). He’s not really a looker, but he’s a battler. With a tiny head and strong, stumpy limbs but a big round body he reminds me of mini-me version of a few fellas I’ve seen at the pub. Most frogs dig backwards but this species digs forwards, like a turtle. It feeds on termites so the adaptation of the muscular limbs is useful when trying to break into a termite mound. Once again get rid of the bushland and you get rid of the Turtle Frog’s habitat and source of termites.

The Peel-Yalgorup wetland system in Perth's south is the most important area for waterbirds in Southwest Australia. It is also home to a unique community of thrombolites clotted accretionary structures formed in shallow water. They just so happen to be one of the oldest life forms on Earth.

All these are under threat and their future will be determined in very short time. The Federal and WA State Government have announced their intention to conduct a Strategic Assessment of the Perth and Peel region, to determine where future development can occur and which areas need to be protected.

Join the WWF in ensuring Perth’s unique and exquisite wildlife is protected. Click here to send an email voicing your concern about the rate at which bushland is being cleared and that you support that sufficient space to house Perth’s growing population should be found on already cleared and degraded land. To make your submission even more effective, please consider sending your own comments direct to:

To find out more about exactly what is a Strategic Assessment and what does it mean for threatened species, go to here.

Comments must be received by Friday 7 October 2011, so please - act now!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Americans can buy stamps to save endangered animals

The United States Postage Service has just released a set of postage stamps that will help save tigers, gorillas and other endangered animals. The "Save Vanishing Species" stamps are exactly the same price as stamps you would buy at the post office or order online but part proceeds are donated to wildlife organisations.

The proceeds will help fund the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Without Borders Multinational Species Conservation Funds. These important funds support conservation efforts that help great apes, elephants, rhinos, tigers and marine turtles survive. The money raised will be divided equally among the conservation funds to support a wide range of projects. These include community conservation, anti-poaching, outreach and education programs, among others.

The part of the stamp price that goes to the funds is tax-deductible.

This is a great way to make a difference for animal conservation by simply requesting this stamp for your letters. No extra cost, one request, simple!

For more information or to order stamps please visit

URGENT ACTION REQUIRED THIS WEEKEND: The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup 2011

Between North America and Asia in the located roughly between 135°W to 155°W and 35°N to 42°N exists a large gyre referred to as Great Pacific Garbage Patch or Pacific Trash Vortex. This is an area of ocean littered with debris mainly in the forms of small plastic particles that have broken down under the sunlight suspended at or just below the ocean surface. Estimates of size range from 700,000 square kilometres (270,000 sq mi) to more than 15,000,000 square kilometres (5,800,000 sq mi) (0.41% to 8.1% of the size of the Pacific Ocean), or, in some media reports, up to "twice the size of the continental United States". There are up to 11 gyres like this in oceans around the world.

To find out more check out this video of Dianna Cohen on

Apart from being unattractive, this rubbish that has been carelessly discarded has a devastating effect on already fragile ecosystems battling oil and contamination spills, increasing human traffic, commerical over fishing and rising sea temperatures. The rubbish can be ingested by marine animals causing sickness and death. Furthermore as the plastic degrades it releases toxins including PCBs, DDT, and PAHs. Not only does this effect the marine life interrupting their endocrine system and hormone levels but this toxic matter then makes it's way back to us when we eat seafood.

Where does this rubbish come from? About 80% of this garbage comes from land based sources. But this weekend you can do something about it.

Since 1994 the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup has been Canada’s largest contributor to the International Coastal Cleanup, a global effort to remove harmful litter and aquatic debris from shorelines before it makes it's way into the oceans. In just a few hours this weekend you can help clean our oceans plus make sure your local coastline is looking immaculate.

To give you an idea of how much rubbish there is to be collected, in the 2010 clean-up volunteers covered 2,235kms and collected 98,071kgs of litter with the top 5 being:
- 227,830 cigarette butts
- 83,660 food wrappers
- 55,880 plastic bags
- 55,443 caps and lids
- 28,755 pieces of disposable cutlery and plates

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is happening over 17-25th September so this weekend is your chance to make a difference. Click here to find the clean-up closest to you and for more information please visit and

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Contagious Cancer in Tasmania Devils

Could cancer be contagious. There is currently a form threatening to extinction of the Tasmanian Devil. Could humans become victim to a similar cancer? Elizabeth Murchinson discusses at a TED conference.

Richard Branson takes on China to save sharks

Shark fin soup is a popular dish in China. According to some, it was originally believed to provide virility. However the high levels of Mercury often found in sharks can have the opposite effect. Although sharks have existed for millions of years, today, the shark population is being decimated as they are hunted simply for their fins, with up to 200,000 a day used for shark fin soup alone. I know there are plenty of other types of soup that are just as tasty and not going to cause a species to become extinct!

You have to admire people who are successful in their field and also take time, energy and resources to support environmental and wildlife issues. Richard Branson, via his organisation Virgin Unite is campaigning to have shark fin soup banned in China and Hong Kong. Don't take my word for it. Check out his own blog:
To take action click here.

Whether you love or loathe a certain celebrity I believe it's fair to respect and support their work. Others to check out include:

  • Leonardo DiCaprio saving the tigers -

  • Cate Blanchett is helping the Sydney Theatre Company become eco-friendly -

  • Al Gore and Climate Change -

  • James Cameron (creator of Avatar and Titanic) and the Canadian Tar Sands - see video below,/a>

  • Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    Mobile phones vs. Great Apes

    Can’t wait to get a new iPhone 5? Or maybe just need to upgrade from your current old phone? Well you might as well just kill a gorilla or a chimpanzee? Have I gone mad? Some might say so, but there is a very close link between gorillas and chimpanzees and the production of mobile phones. Each time another mobile phone is produced it may be contributing to the destruction of the habitat of gorillas, bonobos (a type of chimp), forest elephants, otters and many more species of animals.

    Over a billion phones have been sold each year since 2006. Wireless Intelligence claims that there is currently over five billion mobile phones in use around the world and that number should reach six billion in 2012. With the average person upgrading their phone every 14 months it is predicted that there are about 500 million old phones laying around in people’s junk drawers.

    A cell phone is made up of many materials being about 40% metals, 40% plastics, and 20% ceramics and trace materials. The circuit board is made out of a variety of metals including copper, gold, lead, nickel, zinc, beryllium, tantalum and one in particular that is of interest and has a rather sinister story. Columbite-tantalite, or coltan for short, is a metallic ore that, when refined, becomes metallic tantalum, a heat-resistant powder that can hold a high electrical charge. In mobile phones it is used to regulate the current flow within a mobile’s circuit board. One of the main places where coltan is mined from is the Dominican Republic of Congo and the Congo River Basin (containing the second largest rainforest in the world).

    Since the DR Congo’s independence in the 60’s the country has been in a continual state of civil war as varying parties battle over the country's rich resources (I found BBC News provides a great overview. Click here to see the article). The fighting has led directly and non-directly to over three million people being killed. Amongst the unrest, illegal mining groups have been able to sneak into protected areas and mine by hand using groups of men digging basins in streams, scraping away dirt to get to the muddy coltan underneath.

    These illegal mining groups are capitalising on the mobile phone boom but the coltan mining industry in this region has led to ongoing destruction of the as well as the slaughter of great apes for the illegal bushmeat trade. The United Nation’s Environment Program has reported that the number of eastern lowland gorillas in eight national parks in the Congo has declined by 90% over the past five years. Now there are only two to four thousand left in the wild and less than 50 in zoos.

    It’s easy for us in the Western world to look at the situation and feel that there is nothing we can do. However that is definitely not the case! Mobile phones can be recycled. This reduces the demand for coltan as well as reduces the amount of mobile phones in landfill leaking toxic elements such as arsenic and lead.

    There are many companies and organisations coordinating the recycling of mobile phones. Some offer free postage while others have drop off points. I have found most Zoos have drop off boxes. Below is a list of some. Please feel free to message me more that you know of.

    This weekend I challenge you to take five minutes to dig up any old mobile phones and get them to an organisation that will have them recycled. By doing so you are helping save the gorillas and other animals of central Africa no matter where you are in the world.

    Global - WWF
    Click here for information about various recycling drop off points.

    Australia - The Jane Goodall Institute
    Click here for a Reply Paid Label for individuals.
    Click here for schools and businesses who are interested in organising a collection.

    USA - The E.P.A.
    Click here for a list of organisations participating in the recycling of mobiles and other electronic devices.

    Canada - Recycle My Cell
    Click here to be redirected to a directory of drop off points around Canada.

    United Kingdom - Recycling Appeal
    Click here to be redirected to their site.

    Ireland - Recycling Appeal
    Click here to be redirected to their site.

    Other Related Information
    - Gorillas are so closely related to humans that the human birth control pill is used by zoos to control breeding in gorillas.
    - On 31st May 2011, the World Health Organization confirmed that mobile phone use may represent a long-term health risk, classifying mobile phone radiation as a "carcinogenic hazard" and "possibly carcinogenic to humans”.
    - Like your honey? There have findings that cell phone radiation may be negatively affecting honeybees, but the results have been disputed.

    Here is an old interview I did with Rachel Lawry at Melbourne Zoo a few years ago. Click here to listen.

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Animal Of The Week: the Snowy Owl

    The Snowy Owl is one of the largest species of owl and in North America on average is the heaviest owl. In summer Snowy Owls are found in the Arctic tundra of the northernmost stretches of Alaska, Canada and Eurasia. In winter they will migrate south. They have been reported as far south as Texas, Georgia, the American Gulf states, southern Russia, northern China and even the Caribbean.

    The thought of living in the Arctic Circle for many of us is a daunting one but the Snowy Owl is well adapted to life in this habitat. The feathers of males are practically all white, while females and young do have dark spots making camouflage easy. Their feathers are also very thick and extend all the way to their talons.

    While trees are the chosen nesting place for most birds, these are few and far between in the regions where the Snowy Owl inhabits. They usually build their nest on the ground, preferably on a boulder or mound of dirt. They will sometimes take over abandoned eagle nests. The female will lay 5-14 eggs, one every other around May. They will hatch approximately five weeks later, making them all Geminis and Cancers. Both parents will protect the nest and help raise the young.

    Snowy Owls main diet consists of lemmings, mice and other rodents. A Snowy Owl must eat about 7-10 rodents a day and will eat up to 1,600 lemmings a year! Other prey when rodents are in short supply includes hares, muskrats, marmots, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, prairie dogs, rats, moles, ptarmigan, ducks, geese, shorebirds, ring-necked pheasants, grouse, American coots, grebes, gulls, songbirds, and even other raptors, including other owl species. While most owls are nocturnal the Snowy Owl will hunt just as successfully in day light or at night time. They show great patience and will sit and wait for prey. Once their prey is identified they will attack from the ground or air. They also will take fish near the surface of the water by swooping on them.

    Once their prey is caught they will eat the entire animal. Snowy Owls like others owl species have developed a special way of dealing with the unwanted parts of the prey they eat. Several hours after an owl eats, the fur, bones, teeth & feathers of its prey are still in the gizzard are compressed into a pellet the same shape as the gizzard. Once formed, the pellet moves up from the gizzard to the proventriculus, where it remains before being regurgitated. Owls can't eat while a fully formed pellet is present, blocking the digestive track. When an Owl is ready to produce a pellet it usually closes its eyes, gets a funny look in its face, doesn't want to fly and, when the pellet is ready to come out, the beak is opened and the pellet simply drops out. Other birds of prey, such as hawks, also produce pellets but the owl’s digestive juices are less acidic than those of other birds of prey, so there is more material present to form a pellet.

    If you are ever trying to locate a Snowy Owl, you are unlikely to hear them calling as they tend to remain silent outside of the breeding season. During the breeding season males have a loud, booming "hoo, hoo" given as a territorial advertisement or mating call. Females rarely hoot. Its attack call is a guttural "krufff-guh-guh-guk". When excited it may emit a loud "hooo-uh, hooo-uh, hooo-uh, wuh-wuh-wuh". Other sounds are dog-like barks, rattling cackles, shrieks, hissing, and bill-snapping. Nestlings "cheep" up to 2 weeks of age, then hiss and squeal.

    The good news is listed as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Conservation list.

    Snowy Owl Medicine
    The Snowy Owl uses great patience to hunt and teaches us to do the same. Be patient and know that what you need will come. Also know that when the time comes, you are equipped with what you need to handle the situation, just as the snow owl is adapted to living in the icy climates and hunt and digest their prey. Like all owl they are associated with wisdom and prophecy, having the ability to see the unseen, know the unknown. Snowy Owls seem to have the ability to migrate to places where food is plentiful and foresee famine areas.

    Athena is the Greek goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, female arts, crafts, justice and skill. She is often depicted with an owl on her shoulder or head. It is said the owl would reveal unknown truths, thus ensuring what she spoke was always the truth.

    For the Oglala Lakota Indians, (one of the seven subtribes of the Lakota people) the Snowy Owl represents the North and the north wind. They also were admired and respected by the tribe. Warriors that excelled in combat wore a cap of owl feathers to symbolize their bravery.