|Snowy Owl at Agassiz Valley|
It's no secret that the winter of 2013-2014 has been a very big one for Snowy Owls. Most of our sightings started in January (we were otherwise occupied over the holidays - moving to a new office in Warren).
On New Year's Eve Day, we spotted the first of more than a dozen Snowy Owls on the Minnesota side of the Red River Valley. Yesterday Lynne King spotted one about 3 miles east of the Audubon Center, and today I spotted one at the Agassiz Valley impoundment. Mostly young females... but it was a treat to see a couple of little white males.
|old male Snowy|
|Young female Snowy|
We see Snowies every winter in the Red River Valley, but this year has been special. Get out and look - now!
Last winter the "big" owl irruption was of the smaller kind - the Boreal Owl. This little guy showed up at our birdfeeders at dusk.
A week or so later, this bird was hunting mice at the woodpile.
Seeing Boreals is a mixed blessing. Many of them didn't make it through the winter. A total of 6 Boreal Owls were found dead in the Warren area last year.
Minnesota's smallest owl species - the Northern Saw-whet Owl was spotted in an evergreen up the road in Radium - near the Snake River. I suspect there are more - especially during migration.
While these birds are known for being nomadic, they've declined to the point where I didn't see one last year. Neighbors have complained about people shooting them - despite the fact that they are protected species. Many succumb to collisions with vehicles speeding down minimum maintenance roads. Two years ago, I was fortunate to see their wing-clapping display at 3pm on a cloudy spring day - just down the road.
There are records of Long-eared Owls nesting at the Agassiz Audubon Center. Vanessa Lane spotted one last winter... We need to call them at dusk...
We have a resident nesting pair of Great Horned Owls too (a mixed blessing as they will eat anything their size and smaller - including other owls). The little male hangs out on the 40-acre property owned by National Audubon/Audubon Minnesota every fall.
If you do come out to see the owls... please call first - we don't allow visitors to play recordings without permission.