They’re big, they’re beautiful and if you live in the northern part of the United States, they may be in your neighborhood now. Reports from eBird suggest that this is an irruption year for snowy owls. Not often seen in the Lower 48, snowies are being reported in the northeastern U.S., particularly along the Great Lakes at the Atlantic coast.
While bird watchers are sure to be thrilled, but the addition of this unusual species to your state’s usual winter birds does add a bit of a management problem. Well meaning (and not so well meaning) people can easily cause harm to these birds, which are stressed out by being away from their home range.
The birds also attract media coverage when they are spotted. Here’s just a sampling:
The Gothamist (blog) reports a snowy near the Verazzano Narrows bridge in NYC.
More than 100 snowies in Wisconsin
Spokane Spokesman-Review (birding blog)
Minneapolis Star-Tribune (birding blog)
Photo: Captive/rehabilitated snowy owl in Alaska. Photo by Ronald Laubenstein, courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service