Friday, January 13, 2012

Snowy Owls Invade Chicago! (& Other places)

Owl sequence

I felt so lucky to get to see this guy right before I left Chicago. It was a nice way to end 2011 too. My parents mentioned that they had read one was hanging out in Montrose Harbor, so I knew we'd have to try to see it. Either it wasn't very hard to find or I just got really lucky, either way I'm very happy I did see it. This is the first time I've actually seen a wild owl, and I'm still amazed that it was a snowy owl in particular. 

For some reason they have started coming further south. This article sites possible lack of food, &/or a population increase. Most of the owls this far south are juveniles.

The Tribune has a lovely set of photos, better than I was able to get with my point and shoot camera. (Nature photography is one thing that really makes a person want to spend a lot of money on cameras and equipment.)

The Snowy Owl! Goldeneye (ducks?)

We tried to find him twice and suceeded on both trips. The first time it was so very cold. He was trying to stay warm in the harbor. (He's that white spot on top of that white thing in the picture above on the left.) We also saw a pair of (I think) Goldeneye, black & white ducks. I would've been completely content with that sighting even though we couldn't really get all that close. Fortunately, we had some extra time for my last day in town & it was really nice out, so we gave it a second try.

I saw a huge white wing as I approached the beach house and a group of people with cameras started running. That had to be the owl. It took me a while to spot it behind a large pole on the beach, but it wasn't very long before it moved back to the beach house. I got to see it in flight!

Chuck wasn't with me for this visit, so I started researching sightings for snowy owls here in the Pacific Northwest. Apparently a few have been spotted in Discovery Park in Seattle, and Damon Point in Grays Harbor. I hope they'll be back next year & we get a chance to check it out. I found some great photos on flickr from Damon Point by Roland Kilcher. I particularly like this one. All of his photos make me want to head up there for some birding!

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