A Rare Treat For Vermonters

By Courtney DiFiore

Harry-Potter-HedwigYour dreams of being Harry Potter can finally come true! Well, kind of. If you’re a fan of the Potter series, you’re familiar with Hedwig, Harry’s snowy owl. Traditionally snowy owls nest in the Arctic tundra of the northernmost stretches of Alaska, Canada and Eurasia. However, this winter there have been sightings as far south as North Carolina! There’s been sightings in Vermont too, making it especially exciting.

The snowy owl normally nests on the ground or a boulder.  They’re attracted to open areas like coastal dunes and prairies that appear similar to tundra. Therefore, if you go searching try to look for an open field. This species has yellow eyes, a black beak and white feathers, sometimes spotted black (mostly in females). Because their migration this far south is extremely rare, we encourage everyone to keep their eyes peeled when traveling, hiking and snowshoeing this winter.

Things to remember when searching for the snowy owl:

  • Look in open spaces. Examples – coastal dunes and fields
  • Don’t just look on the ground. These owls like to sit on objects like barns, telephone poles and fence posts too.
  • Use eBird, a real-time bird map. This was a great find because it allows you to search by location and hot spots so you can find out what bird is near you and how recently one was spotted.

One response to “A Rare Treat For Vermonters

  1. For those readers who are fascinated by the excellent reference to “ebird”, I would like to add I was recently greeted by several bird calls as I drove to park in the Amtrak parking garage in Rensselaer-Albany. Apparently, the local birds hang out there in the thick of winter, which Amtrak tries to discourage with loud announcements. You can park there for up to $12 a day, and there’s a car rental company you can use to drive to Stratton, which is an easy 1 1/2 hours away. What an excellent service! And you’ll hear the birds…

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