Friday, December 2, 2011

Snowy Owl - Horicon Marsh NWR, WI

Snowy Owl seen off of Dike Rd., Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, WI; 11/24/2011.
A couple of days before Thanksgiving Day, I heard a report that there was a Snowy Owl (possibly two)seen at Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin. So I decided that, while I was driving into Wisconsin to visit relatives on Thanksgiving Morning, I would go a few miles out of the way to see if I could spot this owl. Sure enough, within fifteen minutes of reaching the Horicon Marsh NWR and turning onto Dike Road where the Snowy was sighted, I found her (Above), sitting on a muskrat mound.  This is the second Snowy I've seen in two years. Last January (2011), a Snowy Owl was also found just south of the Wisconsin border in Illinois near Freeport, just west of Rockford. I drove 45 minutes West to catch sight of that female Snowy as well. Check out the link (below) to my blog post from 1/29/2011, about that Snowy Owl sighting.

According to most bird guides, Snowy Owls which spend their summer months on the Arctic tundra, will migrate as far south as Southern Wisconsin (such as Horicon Marsh NWR) during the winter, and on rare occaissions might venture into Illinois. Already this year two Snowies have been sighted near Chicago (Montrose Beach Point) and with last year's Snowy near Freeport, that makes three for certain in Illinois in the past two years, and winter officially won't be here for another 3 weeks. 
The same Snowy, Horicon Marsh NWR; 11/24/2011.
In fact, there were also two Snowy Owls reported at Horicon Marsh this past week, but on my visit, I only found the one (Above).  This Snowy is a first year female, which sports a white face with darker spots on the cown as well as its wings and back. An adult male will be completely white with  few darker feathers sprinkled throughout. I would love to see a wild male Snowy - the only one I have seen was in captivity in the Lincoln park Zoo of Chicago - link below...

UPDATE: Just yesterday, another Snowy has been reported seen near Rochelle, IL, not far south from Rockford.


Sue said...

I'm glad you were able to see one. THey are really magnificent creatures. I saw one ONCE in my life. I lived just 2 miles east of Freeport at the time on a small farmette. I was walking around the back field and one flew just a few feet above my head and looked directly at me. It was exciting. I never saw him again. Oh, the time to have a camera!

Phil said...

I'm almost certain that I saw a snowy owl in southeastern Iroquois county today (near Hoopeston, IL). Hopefully I can find it tomorrow and get a picture.

jon said...

This seems to be the year of the Snowy Owl in Illinois.