Snowy Owl on the Georgia Coast

February 21, 2013 at 4:50 am (Birds - Georgia, Georgia, Nature, Photography, Wildlife) (, , , , , , )

Snowy Owl atop a beachfront condo in Tybee Island, GA

Snowy Owl atop a beachfront condo in Tybee Island, GA

One thing we crazy birders love is when a rare species shows up.  This Snowy Owl is a couple thousand miles south of its usual haunt in snow country.  It is a common bird of the arctic in summer, and migrates to northern and midwestern US in winter.

Snowy-Owl-Tybee-GA (2)

It has been reported on the Georgia Birders Online listserve for about two months, appearing first on Sea Island then St. Simon’s Island,  then moving northward to St. Catherine’s Island, and now on Tybee Island.  It tends to prefer the roof of 1701 Strand, but has been seen atop several of the condos facing the beach, and is often best viewed from the beach or pier.

Snowy-Owl,-Tybee-Island,-GA04-copy

I don’t usually travel 140 miles just to see a single species, but the weather was nice, it was my day off, and I didn’t want to miss this striking bird.  While I would have preferred to see a snowy owl in the snow, I might not have another chance no matter where it is.  There is a Northern Lapwing in Statesboro, but I decided to skip that one and head back home, stopping at another birding site enroute.

Snowy-Owl,-Tybee-Island,-GA16-copy

I liked the composition on this – reminiscent of the pueblos in the Southwest

One nice thing about hunting rare birds is that you generally encounter other birders – some from quite a distance – to add it to their life list.  I found out that there’s a biologist at Fort Jackson, SC (where I was in the first Charlie Company of WACs to take basic training there in 1974) that monitors the red-cockaded woodpeckers.  You learn all kinds of stuff talking to other birders.

Snowy-Owl,-Tybee-Island,-GA15-copy

Juxtaposition of palm trees and an arctic bird

Snowy-Owl,-Tybee-Island,-GA21-copy

It would be interesting to examine the pellets to see what it has been eating.  It is apparently well-fed.

Snowy-Owl,-Tybee-Island,-GA-28-copy

I’m surprised nobody has publicly referred to this guy as “Hedwig” – Harry Potter’s mail owl.  Its scientific name, Bubo scandiacus, could give it a good nickname – Bubo (or Bubba, considering….)  And yes, it is likely an immature male.  Mature males are almost completely white, and mature females have heavier barring.

See the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for more info about the Snowy Owl.

Photos taken Feb. 20, 2013, Tybee Island, GA with Canon SX-40

www.CindyMcIntyre.com

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre 2013.  Feel free to reblog, with credit.

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3 Comments

  1. Steve Slayton said,

    I didn’t think He would look good on a Roof. But your Photos just blend in. all of them were very enjoyable to see. Due to Foot Surgery, I was unable to go. I still have The one In Tennessee as A Life Bird. But you can’t see too many Snowy’s.

  2. Fran B. said,

    These are very nice photos of this rare bird! I’m envious that I’ve not been able to make the drive down to Tybee yet, and I hope he either hangs around a while longer or comes just a bit further north for a visit to Hilton Head Island! Congratulations on your sighting…

    Fran B.

  3. Rare Snowy Owl in Florida | Cindy McIntyre's Blog said,

    […] closed most of the time, so it was rare to get a glimpse of those yellow orbs.  I had seen an immature male snowy owl on Tybee Island, Georgia last year, and it was the same behavior.  Those large eyes can magnify dim light with ease to aid […]

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