Another banner Snowy Owl year

Norman Spicher of New Hampshire got this photo of a snowy own in the Keene, N.H., in January 2018.

Norman Spicher of New Hampshire got this photo of a snowy own in the Keene, N.H., in January 2018.

It looks like another good year to see snowy owls throughout New England.

The white, powerful Arctic visitors may not be as prolific as they were four winters ago, but it is another exceptionally strong year for sure.

A glimpse at Rare Bird Alerts throughout the region show they are being seen at both coastal and inland areas. They are more likely to be seen along the coast, but not exclusively. Keep your eyes open and you just may spot one of these magnificent creatures.

I have not spotted one this year yet. To be fair, I haven’t made much of an effort as work and family duties have kept me from visiting areas where they have been seen. Luckily, I heard from a reader of my bird column in New Hampshire who sent me a photo of a snowy owl that has been seen in the southwestern corner of that state.

That photo is above and also on the “reader submitted photos” page on this site.
It’s funny, that page also includes a photo of a snowy owl taken in southwestern New Hampshire a few years ago. As I said, snowy owls are most likely to be seen along the coast, but not always.

Good luck in your search. Let me know how you do.

Below are a few photos I took during the historic irruption of 2013, but first here are some links to interesting stories about these northern birds of prey.

From Audubon:

http://www.audubon.org/news/hold-your-bins-another-blizzard-snowy-owls-could-be-coming

How are the owls doing overall?

https://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2017-12-21/snowy-owl-migration-gives-scientists-chance-to-study-them

Well-done blog with maps:

https://bryanpfeiffer.com/snowy-owl-scoop/

Here’s where they are being seen:

http://ebird.org/ebird/alert/summary?sid=SN40647&sortBy=obsDt

Now here are some photo I took a few years ago.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Snowy Owl flies across the beach at The Coastal Center at Milford Point in early March 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Snowy Owl sits on a sign at The Coastal Center at Milford Point in early March 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Snowy Owl sits on a sign at The Coastal Center at Milford Point in early March 2014.

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For the Birds column: Another big Snowy Owl irruption year?

Here’s my For the Birds column from last week. Another big Snowy Owl irruption year? We’ll see …

Photo by Chris Bosak A Snowy Owl flies across the beach at The Coastal Center at Milford Point in early March 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Snowy Owl flies across the beach at The Coastal Center at Milford Point in early March 2014.

The historic Snowy Owl irruption of the 2013-14 winter is still fresh in many people’s minds. I know it’s still on the top of my mind. Could we be in store for another one this winter?

We’ll have to wait and see, of course, but if what is happening in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan already is any indication, the chances are pretty good. We’ve barely turned the calendar over to November and sightings in those states are booming. Typically it is mid to late November when the Snowy Owls start showing up.

The Snowy Owl that delighted hundreds of visitors at Calf Pasture Beach in 2008, however, showed up in early November. This year the sightings in the Midwest came even earlier, starting as early as Oct. 20, according to the folks at eBird. eBird is an online database of bird sightings with much of the data submitted by citizen scientists.

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Project SNOWstorm seeks to unravel mysteries of the Snowy Owl

Photo by Chris Bosak Don Crockett of Project SNOWStorm talks about Snowy Owls at a presenation at Milford City Hall on Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Don Crockett of Project SNOWStorm talks about Snowy Owls at a presentation at Milford City Hall on Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015.

 

(Here’s a little something I wrote up about a presentation on Snowy Owls I attended on Sunday. The event “The Hidden Lives of Snowy Owls” was presented by Don Crockett and sponsored by Connecticut Audubon.)

Last winter Snowy Owls enthralled the U.S. Even casual birdwatchers couldn’t help but be caught up in the historic irruption of the beautiful, yet powerful Arctic bird of prey.

The birds made their way down from their Arctic breeding grounds in record numbers during the winter of 2013-14. Birdwatchers flocked to beaches to try to find the owls. Unlike most winters, the birdwatchers were often successful in catching a glimpse of an owl.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Snowy Owl sits on a sign at The Coastal Center at Milford Point in early March 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Snowy Owl sits on a sign at The Coastal Center at Milford Point in early March 2014.

While Snowy Owls can remain in one spot for hours on end, they do move around quite a bit, during the day and night. So where do the owls go when they aren’t under the watchful eye of birdwatchers? What do they do at night when even the best spotting scope can’t keep track of their whereabouts?

Information about what Snowy Owls do when they come down to the United States is valuable because it gives us a better understanding of these mysterious birds. As Arctic breeders, the more we know about them the better as we continue to grapple with the effects of climate change. They may offer clues as to the extent to which climate change is impacting our world.

To help gather more information on these owls, a group of volunteers started Project SNOWstorm last year. The project involves trapping Snowy Owls with a net and attaching a transmitter to each owl’s back using a harness. The transmitter is lightweight (about 40 grams) and the harness is designed to not effect an owl’s flight. The transmitters are solar-powered, which reduces the weight as no batteries are required, and use the cellular phone network as opposed to satellites. Using the Continue reading

David Allen Sibley talks about the Snowy Owl irruption

Photo by Chris Bosak A Snowy Owl flies across the beach at The Coastal Center at Milford Point in early March 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Snowy Owl flies across the beach at The Coastal Center at Milford Point in early March 2014.

I’ll post parts of my David Allen Sibley interview throughout the next few weeks. Here he talks about the great Snowy Owl irruption of winter 2013-14.

Another Snowy Owl sighting in this historic year

Photo by Chris Bosak A Snowy Owl sits on an old telephone pole at The Coastal Center at Milford Point in early March 2014. Smoke stacks in Bridgeport loom in the background.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Snowy Owl sits on an old telephone pole at The Coastal Center at Milford Point in early March 2014. Smoke stacks in Bridgeport loom in the background.

It’s no secret by now that this is a historic winter for Snowy Owl sightings throughout New England and beyond. Snowy Owls are large owls that breed in the Arctic. The irruption of Snowies has gained the attention of nearly all media outlets — small, medium and large; newspapers, magazines, radio and television.

It’s hard to ignore such an avian happening. A couple Snowy Owl sightings in a New England winter is the norm. This year there have been dozens, perhaps hundreds. The most recent Audubon magazine has a great article by Scott Weidensaul. I highly recommend reading it.

I saw my first Snowy Owl of this winter in December in Westport, Conn. I saw a few more in January and February in Milford and Stratford, Conn.

On March 1 I had perhaps my best Snowy Owl sighting of the year. It was at the Coastal Center at Milford Point in Milford, Conn. The owl was on the beach and, while I photographed it from a distance, other beach walkers flushed the impressive bird on occasion. Because of the owl’s impressive size I was able to relocate it each time. Such an impressive bird.

My hope is that as many of these beautiful birds as possible make it back to the Arctic. Perhaps they’ll visit us again another winter.

Enjoy these photos. I hope to have a short video ready soon.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Snowy Owl flies across the beach at The Coastal Center at Milford Point in early March 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Snowy Owl flies across the beach at The Coastal Center at Milford Point in early March 2014.

More photos below (click on “continue reading.”)

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