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Polar Vortex, Snowy Owls, Puffins, and Answering the Question: Fr. James, If Global Warming Is Real, Why Am I So Cold? — 2 Comments

  1. Wisconsin is actually NOT very far south to find Snowy Owls in winter, as you can see from its eBird range map:

    I’ve subscribed to eBird’s Snowy Owl reports list for almost 10 years now and while some years have seen more reports of sightings than others, they typically come as far south in the mid-Atlantic as Virginia and even North Carolina. We haven’t seen any reports of sightings in the DC area this year, but both Dulles and National Airport’s have had them in recent past (unsettlingly, they seem to like airports). Central Park is in the news because it’s midtown Manhattan, but there are a number of others in and around the New York City metro area at the moment as well.

    They like beaches. In fact, every year, the 120 mile-long southern coast of Long Island has them scattered every 5-to-10 miles from each other from one end of the Island to the other. Some come back to the exact same spot year after year. If you’re lucky, your new friend will be back next year!

    Sadly, I’m still waiting to see my first Snowy Owl (Puffins, as well). I tried to see one that spent the winters at the beach we used to go to on Long Island but they day we went, it eluded us. My brother-in-law who lives up there has gone back twice and seen one each time (there may be more than one wintering in that area), a fact which as annoyed me no end. Sadly, like the Central Park Snowy, this year it’s became something of Twitter celebrity, too, a fact which has also annoyed no end.

    There was one a few years ago hanging out at the Washington Post building in downtown DC. A few days before I was planning to go into town to finally see it, it got hit by a city bus. It survived and was sent to (I think) Minnesota to be rehabilitated, where it recovered and was finally released — only to get hit by a car and killed. I’m still grieving that one.

    • Thanks for you response! My apologies if it came across that Wisconsin was the southernmost Snowy Owls travel. That was not my intent. In my prep, I saw articles of sightings as south as Texas. The point being that some birds go south, others don’t, and its a bit of a mystery. The rule of thumb my birding friend shared with me is that if Snowy Owls perch to hunt at the normal times (dusk), there’s a good chance its healthy. If they perch to hunt during the day, there’s a good chance its starving. This has not been an explosion year in Wisconsin, but it was fun to see my first!

      Thanks for the thoughts!

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