Monday, December 30, 2019

Snowy Owls Winter 2019-2020

©Marie Feldmeier, Kittson County,  Dec 21, 2019

NW Minnesota and the Red River Valley 

are high on the list of the most reliable places to spot Snowy Owls 

in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest


Official "irruption" year - or not - over the past decade we've always had at least a few reports, more often - dozens (or more) throughout the winter season.  They're relatively easy to spot from the comfort of your car.  Look for them on power poles along roadsides, on top of grain bins, barns and road signs, and on the ground in the middle of - and along side - "minimum maintenance" roads.

But before you venture out, be sure you and your vehicle are prepared for the cold, your gas tank is full and your car maintenance is up-to-date.  Keep your cell phone charged.  Use your car navigation system and pay attention to road signs - so you know where you are in case you need to call for help.

Always use your flashers and turn signals.  
Use your vehicle as a bird blind - STAY IN YOUR CAR!
Stock your car for winter emergencies.
Drive defensively.


The first report of the fall season came in on 24 October.  It was spotted on a very muddy township road near a sugar beet field west of US 75 and south of Euclid.   Several birders went out to document the report with a photo.  Nobody got lucky.

Isn't October too early?  According to the records in Robert Janssen's "Birds of Minnesota" (the new, updated edition of his "field guide to the distribution of 400 species of birds in Minnesota" will be on the bookshelves in 2019), September would be "early."   It's "normal" to start seeing snowies in the Red River Valley in October and November.

Our 2nd report came from Thief River Falls, east of Northland College on Minnesota State Hwy 1.  An owl was spotted on a township road, two days in a row (Nov 11 & 12) - early in the morning.   No photos were taken and the bird was not found again.

The first documented Snowy Owl of the Season was photographed on Nov 12 by Kyra Midderigh - southeast of Crookston.

13 November - we got a report from rural East Grand Forks.  Again, no photographs.

 On 13 November, 2019 Leon Thoreson provided cellphone photos of this bird south of Crookston.


On Nov 19 we received 2 reports of Snowy Owls south of Crookston on US 75.   Tim Drisoll's Raptor Ecology Class (University of Minnesota - Crookston) provided photos.

©HvHughes, November 26, 2019
© HvHughes, November 26, 2019
On 26 November, this owl was photographed - on a power pole and in the middle of the road - south and west of Warren.

Today the number of Snowy Owls reported so far this season is 20 with 14 photos.

© HvHughes, Oct 27, 2018

If you see one, please view them from a distance - for more advice click on this link:

If you spot one in the Red River Valley of the North, please send us a text (218-745-5663) or email ( with the following information:

your name
phone number
date and time of your sighting
location (nearest intersection or GPS coordinates)
and a photo - even if it's not a great photo, it may be useful.

We do NOT post exact locations of owls.

Thank you!!!

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