Snowy Owl Invasion

snowy owl

This snowy owl, seen at DE Seashore State Park, was digiscoped (taken with an iPhone through a spotting scope) by DE birder John Barczewski.

CARRIE SAMIS | 3 November 2013

Snowy Owl

Photo: Chris Hudson

SNOW in the forecast!

Maybe you’ve heard about it, we’re being invaded – by snowy owls!

Every few years, we experience a snowy owl “irruption,” when snowy owls, typically juveniles, venture further south in search of food. The irruptions seem to link with the boom and bust of lemming populations in their northern range. In the last 2 weeks, snowy owl sightings have been increasing.

This map, generated by eBird, details the locations of snowy owls sighted in recent weeks.

This map, generated by eBird, details the locations of snowy owls sighted in recent weeks.

One was spotted on Assateague on November 24. Over Thanksgiving weekend, at least 5 were spotted in Delaware. Two snowy owls were seen consistently at Delaware Seashore State Park, just north of the Indian River Bridge – right across the street from the office of the Center for Inland Bays , our sister National Estuary Program in Delaware. These magnificent birds stand approximately 2-ft tall & weigh up to 4 lbs. They are huge!! The are mostly white with some brown markings. They have amazing feet – so densely feathered, they look like fur boots.

Click to see a larger version of this infographic.

Click to see a larger version of this infographic.

If you’re in Maryland, especially along the coast, you stand a good chance at spotting a snowy owl. You might spot on sitting on sand dunes or even further inland.

Remember, these birds have flown great distances and are likely beat! They need to conserve energy. If you see one resting, please take care not to get too close and flush the bird. They’re big enough that you can observe them from a respectful distance.

Experienced birders are excited to share their passion with new folks, young and old. This weekend, enthusiastic birders carefully lowered spotting scopes and shared binoculars so young children could get a look at the snowy owls, too. Seeing a snowy owl is a real treat!

Experienced birders are excited to share their passion with new folks, young and old. This weekend, enthusiastic birders carefully lowered spotting scopes and shared binoculars so young children could get a look at the snowy owls, too. Seeing a snowy owl is a real treat!

Jeff Gordon, President of the American Birding Association, encourages us to enjoy these incredible birds, responsibly. Check out the ABA Code of Ethics for some basic guidelines. “Enjoy this amazing opportunity, and do what you can to inspire all people to enjoy and protect wild birds,” says Gordon. The ABA is a great network of people who are interested in birds, birding, and bird conservation, and offers tremendous resources to its members. You can join, too!

You can see some great video here on nemesbird.com of the snowy owls in Delaware, from Tim Schreckengost.

If you’re lucky enough to see one of these fantastic winter visitors, please let us know!

MCBP Education Coordinator Carrie Samis was tickled to see 2 snowy owls with her 6-yr old daughter, Ella!

MCBP Education Coordinator Carrie Samis was tickled to see 2 snowy owls with her 6-yr old daughter, Ella!

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