Last year around this time, Stacia spotted a Snowy Owl relaxing in one of the fields at her farm. She was super excited, even though this was prior to her meeting her Birdfreak. (Of course, who wouldn’t be excited about a SNOWY OWL?!)
Recently, Stacia asked “Where’s my Snowy Owl?”, hoping he or she would return so we could see it together. Here’s my thoughts on why this owl hasn’t returned this year.
Last winter (2008-2009) there was a fairly big movement of “winter finches” – Pine Siskins, Common & Hoary Redpolls, and White-winged & Red Crossbills. There were lots of Northern Shrike sightings as well as a Spotted Towhee (rare for our area).
What about Snowy Owls?
Snowy Owl sightings were fairly regular. At one point in February of last year there were at least FOUR Snowies in LaSalle and DeKalb (Stacia’s) counties.
This year there have been hardly any Snowy Owl sightings in northern Illinois. Also lacking from the bird sightings: all the above listed birds (at least for the most part and in our core counties of coverage: Winnebago, DeKalb, Boone, Ogle).
This pattern seems to fit. The weather and food supply must have been adequate enough to keep the “winter” birds further north (which is a good thing for them). So it really isn’t too surprising that Stacia’s Snowy Owl didn’t return.
Snowy Owl mount at Severson Dells