Posted by Tim Cafferty

No snow, but we do have a Snowy Owl!

Photo by Sam Bland
As our neighbors to the north are currently drenched in snow, we have no snow to report here on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  However, recent sightings of a Snowy Owl have birders and nature enthusiasts excited about its appearance.  It has been a number of years since the last sighting of this beautiful bird along the coast of North Carolina.  They have usually not traveled this far south, so there is no wonder the excitement level is high for those who track this bird!

Here's a great blog post and diary of an Outer Banks encounter with the Snowy Owl by Sam Bland of the North Carolina Coastal Federation.  He is also an accomplished photographer, as evidenced above.

The images above are from searches on eBird, the online database of bird sightings run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audobon Society.  They show snowy owl sightings for November only, for 2009 (a non-invasion year), 2011 (the last big invasion), and 2013.  Others are found later in the winter, of course, but these are restricted to November to allow comparison to 2013.  Each marker represents a single location, but doesn't indicate anything about numbers of individuals.  Notice how this year's flight is shifted sharply to the east, including observations on Newfoundland and Bermuda.

If you are lucky enough to see one of these majestic birds, please observe it from a respectful distance.  Many of the snowy owls moving south are inexperienced, young birds, already stressed b hunger, and it may hurt their chances of survival if they are repeatedly approached and flushed by humans.  Snowy owls favor very open habitats, such as fields, dunes, and marshes, so it should be possible to get good views of them from a long distance away.

Want to visit the Outer Banks for a long weekend to conduct your own search for the Snowy Owl?  A number of our properties are currently offering three night mini stays through the winter.  Call our reservations team to find an Outer Banks Vacation Rental with a fireplace warm up after your birding adventures.  Don't forget your zoom lens!

Taking reservations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 888-727-3102.

Check out one Outer Banks visitor's encounter with the Snowy Owl on his blog post here.  He is an 18-year-old birder and photographer and was able to capture beautiful photos of the bird:
Image courtesy of Lucas Bobay

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