Scenes from the 2017-2018 Snowy Owl irruption

A Snowy Owl in Kingston, Ontario. Photo by Paul O’Toole

One of the big birding stories from the winter of 2017-2018 has been the ongoing irruption of Snowy Owls into southern Canada and the United States. Many, many Snowies have been spotted over the last several months, especially around the Great Lakes, near the St. Lawrence River, and along the Atlantic Coast, from Newfoundland to North Carolina. The owls have also been spotted farther south in places like Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Texas.

This map shows where eBird users have reported the birds since November. And our friends at Project SNOWstorm have had their hands full tracking lots of newly tagged owls. You can read their latest updates here.

Several contributors to have posted their photos of Snowy Owls in our galleries throughout this winter, and we’ve gathered eight of them into this special gallery. (Click on the photos to see them posted in our galleries.) Enjoy! Matt Mendenhall, Editor

Snowy Owl

Joshua Clark found this bird at Presque Isle State Park in Pennsylvania in early December.


Snowy Owl

This owl perched on a snowy dune in Leamington, Ontario. Photo by Bradley Ouellette.



Cassie Dahl spotted this owl west of Chicago.



In mid-December, this Snowy spread its wings to fend off an attack from a Peregrine Falcon. Joshua Clark witnessed the encounter at the Lorain Impoundment in Ohio. (Photographer Johann Schumacher described a similar scene on a Long Island beach in an essay we published in 2011.)



Perhaps the southernmost sighting of a Snowy Owl this winter occurred in Odessa, Texas, a city in the western part of the Lone Star State. Lora Render posted this photo of the bird, plus a few more.



Jack McDonald photographed this Snowy in mid-February along the northwestern shore of Cape Cod Bay in Duxbury, Massachusetts.


Snowy Owl

On November 22, this owl landed just a few yards in front of Kenneth Bishop while he was watching gulls in South Haven, Michigan, on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. “In order to take this photo with my Canon PowerShot 530sx HS, I actually had to step back from the bird,” he wrote. “I snapped a few photos, and unsure if I should move away from the bird, I decided to stay put. The owl didn’t seem stressed and it hung out with me for a few minutes.” Bishop added that the experience was “one of my most memorable birding moments.”

If you’ve taken photos of Snowy Owls (or any wild birds), submit them to us here



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