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Snowy Owl.

March 3, 2018

Snowy Owl

There is a bird that is a spectacular irregular winter visitor to Ohio, coming down from the Great White North looking for things to eat.  This is the Snowy Owl, a species most birders really want to see.

Snowy Owls tend to come down from Canada in waves in occasional winters.  One theory says a food shortage drives this; another says that an abundance of food allows these birds to spread out more.  Back in the winter of 2013-14, I spent all day in my car out along rural county roads looking for a couple of Owls that had been spotted, but I didn’t see them.  It turned out that one Owl was just a mile away from one of the roads I was searching.  Snowys often range across large expanses of farm fields and even airport grasslands, so it can be difficult spotting them.

Last December, however, brought a Snowy Owl to Clark County’s Buck Creek State Park.  The bird was seen in the parking lot and even on the reservoir beach.  I went out one very cold and windy day to look for it.

I enjoy visiting Buck Creek- I’ll have to post about it one day

Beach parking lot- the Snowy had been seen here

The beach

There wasn’t much in the way of birds around, save for the occasional Ring-Billed Gull

A group of birders looking for the Owl- it was so cold and windy it brought stinging tears to one’s eyes

The Snowy was along the causeway in the rocks- it was very hard to see because it blended in well.  It had flown there when nearby hunters (allowed in a designated area in the park this time of year) had fired their shotguns.  Helpful birders with scopes gave others a look.

Here’s the Snowy Owl- it took me a long time to spot it!

A couple of vehicles stopped on the causeway and looked down upon the Owl


This birder walked out upon the causeway to get a close look at the bird.  This caused a good amount of consternation among the group of birders.  The unwritten rule of birding is to not overtly disturb birds while observing them.  Most birders follow this rule, but it seems there’s always someone who does not.

The birder got too close, and flushed the Snowy Owl from the rocks

The Owl landed upon the beach, and birders scrambled to get a good view

Here’s the Owl.  They are large, magnificent birds.  It may look like it’s out of place, but Snowys like wide-open treeless spaces, such as their native tundra.  They’ll sit for hours looking for prey.

Snowys typically eat small rodents and birds.  They are very agile flyers

You can see their feathered feet in this photo- they have to stay warm in the tundra

The bird stayed around the beach for some days and then apparently moved on.

This was a life-list bird for me, and one I’ll never forget.  It was a privilege to see one!


7 Comments leave one →
  1. Cheryl Mills permalink
    March 3, 2018 4:12 pm

    Beautiful photos! Surprised that an owl would be seen flying over a lake.

    • March 3, 2018 4:33 pm

      Thanks Cheryl! Snowy Owls are sort of different than other Owls, and this one got flushed out by the guy who walked right up on it. At least no one bothered it on the beach!

  2. March 3, 2018 5:02 pm

    How fortunate that the clumsy birder did you a favour in the end. The owl was very hard to see among the boulders.

    • March 3, 2018 11:43 pm

      I had a devil of a time glimpsing it, tootlepedal- a frigid high wind blowing in my face didn’t help!

  3. March 26, 2018 9:01 pm

    What a beauty! Glad you were able to get to see the Snowy Owl. The photo of it in the rocks would make a challenging jigsaw puzzle!

    • March 30, 2018 3:38 pm

      Thanks Patti! I stared at those rocks for almost half an hour trying to spot it! It blended in so well!

      • March 30, 2018 3:59 pm

        It was a beautiful creature, worth braving the weather.

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