UPDATE NOTICE: I first created this article on December 10, summarizing all of the Snowy Owl reports that I was aware of in Ohio. I then shared this with the 2,200+ member Birding Ohio Facebook page (Kudos to Jeff Loughman for founding that group). More reports came in, and the owl tally is now up to 70 birds in 30 counties. I have been hearing about new owls daily, and I will update the map and running tally below as new information arrives. LAST UPDATE: December 19th.
Photo: John Howard, Highland County, Ohio, December 1, 2013
I wrote about the ongoing irruption of Snowy Owls HERE on December 1, and at that time about a dozen of the big white(ish) birds had been reported in Ohio. Well, they just keep on coming! To date, I've heard of 70 owls in the state, and they are attracting attention far and wide. Most of the local newspapers in areas where the owls have appeared have written about them, and Snowy Owls have made national media as well.
One particularly noteworthy story involved JFK Airport in New York City. Owls have been dropping in to feed along the runways, and word leaked out that several had been shot by airport personnel. There had been five owl-plane collisions, and the airport felt that extermination with extreme prejudice was required. Of course, there are other ways of handling such a situation, and Boston Logan Airport provided the example. There, runway owls have been live-trapped and released elsewhere for many years. After a hue and a cry from the public, JFK to their great credit quickly adopted the more humane method of owl deterrence. NBC4 in New York covered the story, and Corey Finger of 10000 Birds was featured. He did a great job, and this news story was probably instrumental in effecting change. That piece IS HERE.
Anyway, back to the Buckeye State. Every day, it seems, one or a few more owls come to light. Following is a map showing their distribution, along with a number representing how many have been reported in each county. If you know of any additional owls, please send me a note: firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE ABOUT SIGHTINGS: Many of these birds have not lingered, apparently, and were only seen on one day. Several reports have come to light several days after the fact, too. In some cases, the landowners have made it clear that they did not want their location made public due to private property issues. I and others try to run down the specifics of sightings, and when possible make the information available to the birding community. Two good places to keep up to date on Snowy Owl sightings are the Ohio Birds Listserv, and the Facebook Birding Ohio site.