Photo: John Howard
John Howard snapped the image above, of a big beautiful immature female Snowy Owl, Bubo scandiacus, near twilight, tonight! This sighting is especially significant as the bird is in southern Ohio, and we seldom get these Arctic visitors that far south. This owl is frequenting an area along State Route 73, just north of the Adams County line in Highland County.
The Highland County bird is certainly not the only one in the state. At least eleven others were reported today. One was in western Ohio, in Paulding County, and the others were along Lake Erie, with Cleveland the hotspot. About eight have been along the lakefront there, and two were seen by John Pogacnik at Conneaut Harbor. You can be sure that more are out there awaiting discovery, and if one turned up in Highland County, they could be anywhere. Double-check anything that looks like a distant white bag caught up in corn stubble in a field.
Snowy Owls are appearing in numbers beyond Ohio, and at least one has made it is far south as North Carolina. Our neighbor to the west, Indiana, had at least ten today from various locales, and numerous others have turned up around the Great Lakes.
It was just two winters ago that we had another notable flight, and I got the opportunity to talk about those owls with NPR's Melissa Block, RIGHT HERE. It may well be that this winter's flight will eclipse that 2011/12 invasion. Keep your eyes peeled!