Thursday, November 29, 2018
SNOWY OWL FEVER
As the temperatures drop and snow arrives, my thoughts have turned to when I’ll see my first Snowy Owl of the winter. I’ve gotten Audubon alerts that have already reported three sightings, one in Northport and the other two in Traverse City. I’ve even driven through the industrial park twice where I’ve seen Snowies in past years.
Snowy Owls often don’t pick the most photogenic spots to perch. I photographed this Snowy last December when it chose this electrical box to land on so it could watch the nearby field for its favorite prey, mice and voles.
Another favorite roost for the Snowy Owl in this park was this huge mound of dirty snow deposited by snow plowers right behind the electrical box. It had the height to make a good vantage point for the owls.
But that whole corner has changed this year. The electrical boxes are still there, but a new building complex now occupies the whole corner and beyond.
In another area of the park popular with Snowy Owls, a second large building complex has been built. As the natural owl habitats have changed, I wonder where the Snowies will go to hunt. This year out in the countryside, I found farmers had rotated their crops away from corn and I saw fewer Sandhill Cranes in the same areas where I’d abundantly seen them in the past. Will the same thing happen with Snowy Owls?
Still, there are many undeveloped parts of the park where dirt piles and open fields could provide fruitful habitats for hunting Snowy Owls. I’ll just have to work a little harder to find them.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the countless number of light poles in the park, another favorite Snowy Owl roost. I may be looking up more this season to spot my photography subjects than in past years. One thing is sure. My excitement to see these magnificent birds is reaching fever pitch.