Snowies in winter
As I wrote in November, we’re unlikely to have a big winter for Snowy Owls in southern Canada and the lower 48 states. Users of eBird have reported a handful of sightings of our cover bird from Alberta to North Dakota and a couple sightings in Michigan and Quebec. We’ll have to wait and see if they come farther south.
If one or more Snowies turn up near you this winter, please bear in mind that the birds are trying to survive in a landscape that is far different from their summer home in the arctic. Roads, airport runways, and other aspects of modern life are alien to Snowies and all pose threats. So, by all means, go see the birds, but always keep their welfare in mind, especially if you’re taking photos. (For the best advice on this topic, see Audubon’s Guide to Ethical Bird Photography.)
A special event like a Snowy Owl sighting is an opportunity to “wow” your children or grandchildren and get them excited about birds. If you’re going to look for a Snowy, bundle the kids up and bring them along! And for more advice on how to inspire kids to get hooked on birds, turn to Andrea Miller’s article on page 16.
And follow that up with Hollin Stafford’s piece on page 18: “Raised by Birders.” She tells a funny and delightful story about her childhood, as a daughter of ornithologists. She recalls an early memory of seeing a Snowy Owl in Minnesota: “If one needed to conjure a definition for magic, I suppose this image would fit the bill. It was glorious.”
Matt Mendenhall, editor