I know, I know…you’re wondering when this guy is going to quit with the doggone Snowy Owl posts. Folks, I’m just out reporting what’s happening on the prairie, and just when I think the climax of the story has been reached, it keeps escalating. Boston may be getting dumped with snow, but Kandiyohi County is getting buried in SNOW. No fluff owl postings on this site – just hard-hitting updates on the story that’s unfolding daily. So let’s get right to it.
After Evan’s piano lesson, Melissa and the kids went out to eat. I split from them as I was scheduled to work at my buddy Steve’s Knowledge Bowl meet. #neverfullyretired I had about a half hour to kill, so I went owling. Right away I found a Snowy, and it looked darkish in the diminishing light. I didn’t stop, though, didn’t even slow down. I would come back. I first had to do my route to see just how many Snowies I could dig up. I did find Wilbur which now gave me my fourth double-Snowy sighting of the month. #wilburisthebestlookingsnowyowlever
He was waaay up high on one of those metal high-line poles, so he was not bothered by me parking beneath him. I didn’t have much time left and I wanted to get back to that first Snowy, so I left Wilbur after just a minute or two.
I turned a corner and took one look back and was blown away by Wilbur’s backdrop.
Now call it karma, call it luck, call it probability for the number of times I go Snowy Owling, but something remarkable happened. Last weekend I was bothered by a visiting photographer walking right up to Wilbur, and here while I was enjoying the sunset and Wilbur from a distance, he dropped off his power pole perch and glided…..to a lamp post right next to my car! Wilbur was 25 feet out my window! #crushyouverymuchwilbur
As awesome as this was, the clock was ticking as I had a responsibility to be somewhere and another owl yet to photograph. My initial suspicion was right – it was a dark one, a young female bird and a completely new Snowy Owl for the county!
I was so pumped and so rushed that I couldn’t even get clear picture of her when she gave me “the look.” She shall be called Wilma.
Willma was now the third Snowy I have personally found. At least. I may have been counting different Snowies as the same continuing bird. Regardless, it might be time to buy a SNOWblower. As cool as it was to find Willma, I had decided I was done reporting Snowies for the county (on the listserv and FB anyway). No worries, she’ll still be eBirded, but my checklists will be hidden until after this season of owls passes. I still want future Kandiyohi birders to be able to know about this awesome chapter in our history, and I want to help flesh out the national story of Snowy Owls this winter.
What a night! What a season!
Took a call at work from fellow birder/teacher Brad that a custodian had told him about a Snowy that had touched down in Meeker County near Cosmos that very morning. I knew two hard-core county listers who have made a combined 8 unsuccessful trips to Meeker just for Snowy Owls. They want one BAD. One of the men was renowned birder and field-guide author Bob Janssen. Instead of posting, I called them up directly. One of the men was able to come out to search. Unfortunately after several hours of looking, it was another trip for the loss column.
I tried hard to find a Meeker Snowy on my way home from work. I tried real hard.
I saw no Kandiyohi Snowies during my daily owl prowl.
Wednesday- A Glorious Day
I have been telling the guys I bird with in Kandiyohi County that we need to be checking daily for new Snowies because in looking back at pictures, we may, in fact, be dealing with several owls that we are calling the same owl. My advice was to not quit looking once one Snowy was found. Tonight as I started my owl prowl, I was delighted to see Willma again! She hung on for a couple days and wasn’t just passing through one night. How cool is that?
She’s a sweet gal, but I had to keep my own advice and get moving to look for more. It was a misty, overcast night – the owls would be perched up if they were around. A few minutes later I had another one!
The more I looked at this bird the more excited I got. The GISS and markings were wrong for Wilbur and the location was far from his hunting grounds. This wasn’t Wilbur, and Wilbur is the most reliable Snowy I’ve found. Instantly I recalled a hallowed tale of the great Gandalf Kandiyohi Birder, Randy Frederickson, who one day, long, long ago saw three Snowy Owls in one day in Kandiyohi County. My heart was thumping – I had a chance to tie Randy! I raced to Wilbur’s turf, still scanning for other owls along the way.
I got to his haunts and couldn’t find him. What the heck? We have zero snow right now, which is super weird, and I can’t find the whitest Snowy Owl on the planet. Maybe I was wrong, maybe that last owl was Wilbur. I gave up and was about to get on with my responsibilities. As I looked left before making my turn, though, there he was! I did it! Three Snowy Owls in one day in the county!!! #hattricksandturkeysarethetriosoflessersports
And all of them were right here at home. By the way, the Snowy #2 in this post shall be called William.
I wanted to keep up the search for #4, but I had responsibilities which needed my attention, namely picking up Evan from school. I was able to show him two of these birds on the way home. He’s Snowy-owled out, but the look on his face was shear awe and amusement when he saw Wilbur perched at eye-level in the photo above.
I ended my night by calling Randy. Randy was genuinely excited about the news. I think we are all in shock and awe over what is happening this year.