Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Day 321 - Tundra The Snowy White Owl!

Tundra - A cold, treeless, usually lowland area of far northern regions. The lower strata of soil of tundras are permanently frozen, but in summer the top layer of soil thaws and can support low-growing mosses, lichens, grasses, and small shrubs. Or simply put, Russian for treeless Mountain Tract. (Wikipedia)

The last couple of days we've had some frosty mornings so some of the areas that rest between our majestic mountains where the cattle graze along with the horses and goats became tundra.  I only know this because I was out in search of a rare sighting I heard about and captured some photos of this tundra.  How beautiful this tundra looked.   Here's a few amateur photos I captured....

Blue Tundra in Rosman, NC
White Ponies are in Brevard, NC

Frost Crystals on the Leaves

A mockingbird finds berries in the tundra
So what amazed me was how beautiful it was at 6:30 AM in 20 degree weather.  I had never taken the time to see it's beauty because it is tooo cold.  Of course I did have the advantage of driving in my warm car.  But I digress I was originally trying to find the Snowy White Owl that the neighbor Mrs. Brown told me about.  Her sister made the comment that about three hundred people were parked along the road taking pictures of this thing.  The day before I saw license plates from Missouri, and Virginia.  Mine of course is still registered to Florida so that made me appear like I had driven over 600 miles but I had just ventured down off the mountain!  I told Mrs. Brown, "Thank you for my Christmas present!  Merry Christmas to Me, this is a very very rare bird, there is about to be 301 cars parked  down there!" and off I went to try to see for myself before I had to go to work but no luck.

I ran into the local General Store and Robin assuuuured me that.."no owwwuul was down heeeerre or I would have known about it. I know everything about this area and I don't know about no owl."  I listened and the young attendant who was hooked up to Facebook told me his friend had photos of it posted and where to find it.  He said, "Just go on back down there to Mrs. H's house."  So I went back on down there to Mrs. H's house.  And Mrs. H told me that it was there Sunday and Monday when she came back from the dentist but it hadn't been spotted since then.  That is what I love about this town.  Just regular folks who aren't afraid to talk to you.  They are the nicest people here and I mean that.  Mrs. H told me about her daughter and where she worked and where to find her.  Her daughter had the photos.  So I went to Mrs. H's daughter's shop and Kathy, her daughter, shared the photos with me and told me where I could find out more information.  So now I'm sharing it with you.  When something this special comes along, you cant just keep it to yourself, you have to share it, it's the right thing to do.  And we have to do it in a respectful manner.  Please keep this in mind.

Here is Tundra the Owl, we've all been so enamored by:

Photos courtesy of Steve Atkins
Will Kilpatrick found the owl and tried to feed her mice.  He noticed she came about 20 feet from the back door and something just wasn't right so he called Carlton Burke.  Carlton says that we really don't want to humanize the wild animals but this bird was special and he didn't want to keep referring to it as "that bird" so he named it to symbolize it's habitat; Tundra.  Carlton has taken her to his Sanctuary.  Turns out Tundra is not doing so well.  She is malnourished and wouldn't eat.  She was severely underweight.

Donations will help him with Tundra as although Tundra has made it past the critical 48 hours, it is not a given she will survive.  

Please send donations to: 
Carolina Mountain Naturalists
3150 N. Mills River Road
Mills River, NC 28759

Make Check out to Carolina Mountain Naturalists and you can put Tundra in the note section of your check.  I will keep you updated on the blog with her status. 

Most male Snowy White Owls are all white.  Juvenile Males have brown spots and females have brown spots, so there is no confirmation yet to the sex.  (This author believes it is a female and will keep referring to her as a she.) 

Here are some more photos of this lovely bird.  Steve Atkins also did the right thing and without a blink of an eye said SURE when I asked him to use his photos.  Thank you Mr. Steve Atkins.

Photos courtesy of Steve Atkins

Photos courtesy of Steve Atkins

Photos courtesy of Steve Atkins
So from this frozen ground comes such a magnificent creature to feed on lemmings (which we don't have much of here in NC) and mice, voles, rabbits, other birds and squirrels - which we have plenty.  So from what seems to be dead frozen muddy ground, we are sent this beautiful creature which hasn't been to this area in decades!  Decades! The Native Americans believe that when an Owl presents itself to you, it has meaning.  The presence of the owl announces change.  The meaning, the ability to see what others do not see, to route out deceit.  For more info about Owl Animal totems you can visit this website:

Please keep Tundra in your prayers and support her recovery and rehabilitation with your financial support and pockets.  We may never get another chance in our lifetime to do something this "right".  We may never get another chance.  Let's all make a difference.  


  1. Tundra seems to be a survivor! She is doing well and Carlton will keep us posted! Keep praying for her and sending her well wishes. Financial support helps buy mice to feed her too. Small $5 payments are welcome! Thank you to everyone who has found it in their hearts to love this beautiful bird.

  2. I've been doing education programs with a snowy owl named Ghost for in Alaska for the past 7 years. They can be a challenging bird for certain. Be sure not to stress or over feed. They like to get their hydration from their food, but will drink from a large water bowl when needed.

    Best of luck and I have a check in the mail.


  3. We have also heard that people from Weaverville have sent checks to Carlton Thank you Everyone! Keep them coming in! Mice aren't cheap!

  4. Update: Tundra was uninjured, but blood tests revealed an elevated white blood cell count, perhaps an indication that an infection left her too weak to hunt, Burke said. After stabilizing the owl's electrolyte levels, he started Tundra on a course of antibiotics and is hand-feeding her mice to gradually increase her weight.

    “It's gotten over the first critical stage,” Burke said. “I'm pretty hopeful at this point in time.”

    Burke said it will take at least “several weeks” of feeding and rehabilitation before Tundra is ready to be released back into the wild. Kilpatrick is urging bird lovers to help Tundra's recuperation by donating funds to Carolina Mountain Naturalists, to help fund the hundreds of mice necessary to rebuild her weight.

  5. Tundra has moved to an outdoor enclosure!! She is starting to get restless! Great signs that she's feeling better! Blood work will be done next week and Carlton will give us an "official" scientific announcement but the behaviors all indicate that Tundra is progressing nicely. Carlton is getting inundated with phone calls, emails and people just randomly showing up at his doorstep. Please the best thing we can do is let him do his job and tend to his other important Birds of Prey and Tundra. Send donations, this is where you can make a significant difference!