What do snowy owls do during the day? Most of the time by my observations they sleep or go between sleeping and waking up. A few times I have seen them fly to catch prey. The appear to be mostly sedentary during the day.
I saw two different owls this day. This is the same owl when I arrived and before I left. I was there around 4 hours, but watching them maybe less than half of the time I was there. They appear to have remained in the same locations from the time I arrived until when I left. All the photographers seemed to be respectful and keep a distance.
Can you tell if these are male or female snowy owls? At the website Allaboutbirds.org it says “Male Snowy Owls are barred with dark brown when they’re young and get whiter as they get older. Females keep some dark markings throughout their lives. Although the darkest males and the palest females are nearly alike in colour, the whitest birds—including the ones that played Harry Potter’s Hedwig—are always males and the most heavily barred ones are always females.“
These four separate owls were all in the same general area , not far apart, on a beach one day. Some of these owls may be juveniles, born this year in the Arctic and may still be changing in colour. What do you think? Which ones are female and are any male?
It was not a good day light wise, but we are having cloudy and rainy conditions all this week it appears. However, this trip I saw four snowy owls. Below are pictures of one of them. I know there were four because I was watching one not far away, then two flew in to hang out at opposite ends of a jetty, shortly thereafter a fourth flew in and hung out on a nearby tree.
Even when you think the weather may not be ideal get out , explore, and enjoy nature. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Not sure what this snowy owl ate. I have yet to see it with prey. One time I saw one fly into the grass. It appeared to have caught a mouse or other small animal, but we could not see through the grass.
Get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Keep a distance from the wildlife.
Many birds leave the northeastern part of the United States and Canada this time of year and head to warmer locals where finding food is easier. Loons migrate to the Long Island Sound and points south. Most Great Blue Herons and Ospreys have headed south. Can you name a bird that treats New York and New England as their Florida in the winter? One bird is the snowy owl.
Behaviour Around Snowy Owls
Some snowy owls from the Arctic in Canada arrived early this year. Some were seen as early as October. If you hear of them on one beach hanging out multiple days and you don’t see them head to a neighbouring beach. Don’t bring a dog. I have seen them fly off at the sight of one. Keep your voice down. Unfortunately I witnessed a man last year yelling near an owl twice and he caused it to fly off both times. Don’t go too close. Move slowly within eyesight of it and don’t make sudden moves.
Snowy Owl Habits
These birds spend most of their time sleeping during the day. They tend to fly and start hunting right before sunset. Usually they are here from around December through March.
This owl was perched on a huge plastic container of some sort. I don’t know if it is something boats use or if it is industrial debris. Kind of sad, but it is one more sign of how prevalent plastic debris is.
I enjoy seeing the many faces of the snowy owl. Get out and enjoy nature. Follow the rule of trips in wild areas: carry in, carry out.
One way to avoid spooking an owl is to not approach it rapidly. If you see someone watching it safely from one side, go slowly to the same side person is viewing it from.
So the moral of the story is do not approach the owl quickly, or surround it.
A second way not to spook a snowy owl is do not talk loudly or yell around wildlife, not just snowy owls. I saw someone do just that and the snowy owl flew off. I had the opportunity to follow a barred owl family spring through summer last year. If you are quiet, they will allow you to observe from a safe distance. Whenever other people were talking in the woods or were walking a dog you had less luck seeing them.
In addition, if it is known there are snowy owls on the beach do not walk your go there. Two beaches I found snowy owls on had signs saying no dogs. However, that was not being followed. Not sure if it only applied in the warmer months. I saw an owl spooked a third time because someone walked a dog not far from it. The owl took a few short flights to avoid the situation.
Also, keep a distance where you are not stressing the owl. If the owl is stressed back away. Jones Beach had signs saying keep at least a 100 feet away. Those signs were down last time I was there. I would say that is a good distance to be safe.
Snowy owls are beautiful birds to watch. Respect the animals and other people, and you will enjoy the experience.
2020 was the year of the owl for me. Started off spring through summer following a barred owl family, then in early December watching short-eared owls, and before the end of December catching a snowy owl. These are night photos from my first trip to see the snowy. I hope for another trip soon. All of these on this post were taken around sunset or shortly after from a distance. I have a zoom, but its largest aperture opening is 6.5 so I cannot do what the big boys and girls do with the camera. These photos are heavily cropped as well.
After sunset the owl flew down off the dune to the beach. She played with a branch for a little while, then at blue hour flew to a sign where the beach meets the path back to the parking lot.
Follow the rules when it comes to snowy owls. I believe the sign at the beach that said you can not come within 100 feet or it is a 250 dollar fine. I understand some pros try to flush them out to get them in flight. Do not do that. These birds are dwindling and we need to protect them.
Jones Beach is known for its 6.5 miles of white sand on the Atlantic Ocean on New York’s Long Island. It is also known for its outdoor concerts in warmer months and drive through holiday lights display November through January. What is it also known for this year? It is known for some snowy owls who are visiting from a much colder climate.
Jones Beach is a barrier island encompassing 2,400 acres on the south shore of Long Island. It is a state park that includes the West End Energy and Nature Center at West End 2.
It has a variety of birds that can be seen at different points in the year including oystercatchers, terns, northern harper hawks, plovers, brants, and now the snowy owl. On the day I went I was told 2-3 were sighted there within a few days prior. That day I found one.
I arrived around 10 in the morning, but took a long break in the middle of the afternoon to warm up in my car. I ended up leaving around 6 p.m. The light varied throughout the day from dark and cloudy to very sunny.
If you go to spot a snowy owl, know they are protected. Don’t make any unnecessary noise and keep a distance. I believe the sign at the entrance says to stay at least 100 feet away. It also stated there was a 250 dollar fine for violating that. I did see one person early on who I think was doing just that as he was low crawling up one side of the dune the owl was sleeping on. I have a zoom lens and these are cropped a lot.
I was so happy to get this opportunity to see this owl. My friends Andrew and his wife Theresa let me know about this place to view the owls. Thank you Andrew and Theresa! I will post more pictures taken in the late afternoon and evening in another post. Happy New Year everyone!