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— Bryan

Snowy Owl in Randolph Center, Vermont

The Snowy Owl Scoop

Breaking news on the migration of Snowy Owls across North America

Summary Report – Tuesday, December 5, 2019

Snowy Owls have settled in for the winter in a swath of sightings stretching from New Jersey to Manitoba. The timing and distribution of the owl incursion suggests a typical, fairly active winter for Snowys — except for one oddity: few Snowy Owl sightings from inland New England and adjacent states in the Northeast. My home state of Vermont, for example, has no owls persisting at their customary sites in the Champlain Valley. The regional pattern is clearly evident in the eBird sightings map (link below) as of December 5.

To be sure, Snowy Owls like to be near water when they come south in winter, where they sometimes hunt waterfowl. The Northeastern U.S. coastline and the St. Lawrence River Valley, as usual, are attracting the most owl sightings. The distribution is more scattered from Ontario northwestward into Alberta. Some of the pattern here in the Northeast reflects birder preference for coastal and shoreline sites in winter. But the absence of owls inland is a bit unusual. (I’ll update this observation accordingly through the winter; I suspect it will change.) The southernmost owl confirmed so far on eBird is from Island Island Beach State Park in Ocean County, New Jersey, (east of Philadelphia) on November 19.

The Map link below includes Snowy Owls reported to eBird since November 1. The Sightings link features a list of Snowy Owl reports during the past seven days only in the lower 48 states, including “unconfirmed” records not yet on the eBird map.

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The Snowy Gallery

Click the grid below for a gallery of recent sightings (there are indeed a few) from eBird and the Macaulay Library from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.