The Season’s First Snowy Owls

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Snowy Owl in East Montpelier, Vermont, in April of 2014 / © Bryan Pfeiffer

Snowy Owl in East Montpelier, Vermont, in April of 2014 / © Bryan Pfeiffer

The Arctic has come visiting. Vermont’s first two Snowy Owls of the season turned up in the past week. The first showed up on November 12 at the Whiting Library in Addison. Renee Traverse reported it on eBird (with a photo). Two days later, on the Colchester Railroad Causeway, Martha McClintock found another (and reported it on eBird). Each owl has been relocated in the past few days. Snowy Owls have also been turning up on the Massachusetts coast for the past week. So the November movement is right on schedule.

I can’t say we’ll have another big Snowy Owl invasion. Probably not — unless you live in the Midwest, particularly Wisconsin, where Snowys have descended in decent numbers so far this fall. But do watch for the white out there — on utility poles, fence posts, farm buildings, and in open fields. Here’s an eBird map with recent Snowy Owl sightings; you can see the surge in the Midwest, particularly along water.

Not to be outdone by any white bird, Snow Geese continue to gather in Vermont and New York. Our latest reports from Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison seem to be ranging from 3200 geese (from Ian Worley, who counted from a plane) to upwards of 5,000 (on November 13). But the geese at Dead Creek, even when thousands gather there, aren’t always visible from the goose viewing area on Route 17. Sometimes they drop into a wetland out of sight.

Your next best bet — and it has been a very good bet this fall — is the shoreline of Lake Champlain and nearby fields in New York south of Rouse’s Point, near Point Au Roche State Park. Sharp-eyed birder and photographer Dave Hoag counted at least 10,000 Snow Geese in the area last week. The count could go higher. Keep track of it all on my 2015 Snow Goose Scoop.

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