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by OntPhoto on Sat Nov 19, 2022 6:33 pm
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Based on the most recent report from Project Snowstorm dated November 17, 2022, the summer of 2022 was not a productive nesting season for snowy owls up north.  They use satellite imagery with follow-up on the ground to verify satellite data. 

Excerpt:  
"Summer 2022 saw very low lemming abundances across most of the Canadian Arctic, the core breeding range for the snowy owl, including the long-term study site on Bylot Island (Nunavut). The only place harboring nesting snowy owls that we are aware of in 2022 was on Ward Hunt Island at the very northern tip of Canada (only a few hundred kilometers away from the North Pole)."

"Given this past summer’s observations, we are not expecting a huge winter irruption at our latitudes this coming winter."

First News from the North


It's still too early to tell what numbers of snowy owls will show up here but a look at the species map comparing November 2021 and November 2022 may or may not give an indication.  Keep in mind we still have 1 1/2 weeks to go in November 2022.  And the weather had been warmer than usual until recently with little in the way of snow.

November 2022 Snowy Owl map of sightings in Ottawa and surrounding area. Most of the red dots are probably different sightings of the same snowy owl or two.
Image

Snowy Owl map of sightings for November 2021.
Image
 

by OntPhoto on Tue Nov 22, 2022 12:44 pm
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One showed up (immature) in the St-Isidore area (we assume).  But anyone who posts a trip of 5 miles or 8 kilometers isn't giving the exact location.  But a lot of kilometers can be covered just in the general area driving up and down those roads.  A couple of snowy owls have been reported in eastern Ontario but probably not as many as in past winters.  By late November to early December we will have a better idea.  Next couple of weeks. 


UPDATE:  November 25, 2022.
Took several drives around the known snowy owl location in the Stittsvile / Kanata area such as Eagleson, Fallowfield, Akins, Brownlee, Shea and Rushmore.  With the snow melted away, any snowy owl would be easier to spot.   Not even one owl in sight.


Last edited by OntPhoto on Fri Nov 25, 2022 7:48 pm, edited 3 times in total.
 

by wdg on Fri Nov 25, 2022 2:17 pm
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West coast breeding season (Alaska area) - only one nest was found. 
6 chicks - the youngest was recently found injured and transported to a rehab facility. 
Lemming populations are down which may account for low numbers being reported in west and Midwest.
Hoping that the Midwest northern areas had better breeding Snowy season but have not heard. 
Winnipeg area had reported quite a few early in season. 
Normally I would be seeing at least 1 a day here (ND) but have yet to see any (Altho a few have been reported in state) 
Short-eareds have arrived and in ok numbers.
Vole populations are up here after a few years of low numbers from little winter snow cover - hoping that may help.
Other owls (Long-eared and NSaw-Whet) have been seen in high numbers as well as they move thru area. 

Any news of Midwest Snowys would be appreciated.
Thanks
 

by OntPhoto on Sat Nov 26, 2022 9:03 pm
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wdg wrote:West coast breeding season (Alaska area) - only one nest was found. 
6 chicks - the youngest was recently found injured and transported to a rehab facility. 
Lemming populations are down which may account for low numbers being reported in west and Midwest.
Hoping that the Midwest northern areas had better breeding Snowy season but have not heard. 
Winnipeg area had reported quite a few early in season. 
Normally I would be seeing at least 1 a day here (ND) but have yet to see any (Altho a few have been reported in state) 
Short-eareds have arrived and in ok numbers.
Vole populations are up here after a few years of low numbers from little winter snow cover - hoping that may help.
Other owls (Long-eared and NSaw-Whet) have been seen in high numbers as well as they move thru area. 

Any news of Midwest Snowys would be appreciated.
Thanks
It's not looking too promising right now.  I want to wait until first weeks in December to see if things improve.  

Some spots known to have snowy owls are seeing a few this fall (near Montreal and areas).  But locally in Ottawa, not much.  Normally by mid-November we'd be seeing 5 in one area (Eagleson, Fallowfield, Akins, Rushmore) but not even one so far.  Maybe others have found one or two but no reports.  I have driven by that location twice so far.  Birders know that location is so well known they will post sightings (it's not a secret location).

So, if Winter 2022 turns out to be a dud for snowy owls, at least we know why.  Poor breeding season up north.  Typically, if it was a good breeding season, many juvenile owls would be heading south and some into the Ottawa area. The adults tend to stay more northward as they have more experience hunting and watching over the territory.  

Here is the conundrum.  

When food is bad, even the adults will move southward (like the great gray owl irruption of Winter 2004-2005).  Interesting, with a lemming shortage up north, how will the adult owls up there survive?  Maybe with less competition from juvenile snowy owls, maybe they will not have to move too southward?  Or they may move southward once winter hits.  Just speculation on my part.

Winter 2022 will likely not be a great season for snowies but probably not as bad as Winter 2010 (IRRC) when hardly any were seen. 
 

by OntPhoto on Wed Nov 30, 2022 8:44 am
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I took a drive around the St-Isidore and Casselman area and saw no snowy owls.  Not a thorough drive but mainly the usual roads that have been known to have snowy owls in the past.  This is a location that always has a few snowy owls except for the years where none show up or maybe one or two only.  No snow on the ground except for a few remaining snow patches.  I need to do another drive at dusk just in case.

Going back to check when there is new snow cover on the ground. 

My next location to check is in the Orleans and Navan area.  This is east end of Ottawa.  Also known to have its share of snowy owls in the winter months.  I am enjoying the milder fall so far.  
 

by wdg on Wed Nov 30, 2022 4:18 pm
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I wasn’t aware that Snowys are now listed as vulnerable.
What has made winters with below zero temps for days enjoyable was the ability to see and watch these birds.
Hope the link works-

https://www.newsweek.com/snowy-owl-phot ... 3478?amp=1
 

by SantaFeJoe on Wed Nov 30, 2022 5:00 pm
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wdg wrote:I wasn’t aware that Snowys are now listed as vulnerable.
What has made winters with below zero temps for days enjoyable was the ability to see and watch these birds.
Hope the link works-

https://www.newsweek.com/snowy-owl-phot ... 3478?amp=1
The article only mentions amateur photographers, but I have seen “so-called” pros that acted much worse and are more persistent in harassing and disturbing wildlife and birds. Sometimes they seem to feel entitled. That happens often at Bosque and the National Parks. They sometimes try to move other wildlife viewers out of the way, as if they are more important. Pros tend to have longer lenses, so they don’t need to approach as closely. The difference is that they tend to stick around longer than amateurs.

Joe
Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.  -Pablo Picasso
 

by merlinator on Wed Nov 30, 2022 8:33 pm
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wdg wrote:I wasn’t aware that Snowys are now listed as vulnerable.
What has made winters with below zero temps for days enjoyable was the ability to see and watch these birds.
Hope the link works-

https://www.newsweek.com/snowy-owl-phot ... 3478?amp=1

Cosewic has them rated as not at risk.
Species search - Species at risk registry (canada.ca)
Roy
 

by OntPhoto on Wed Nov 30, 2022 11:17 pm
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wdg wrote:I wasn’t aware that Snowys are now listed as vulnerable.
What has made winters with below zero temps for days enjoyable was the ability to see and watch these birds.
Hope the link works-

https://www.newsweek.com/snowy-owl-phot ... 3478?amp=1
Northern owls are what gets me and others through the cold winter months.  Nothing else will get me to stand in an open field for a couple of hours on the coldest days of winter with -25 C* windchill. 

Last winter was great with a couple of northern hawk owls, several great gray owls and of course quite a few snowy owls in the Ottawa and surrounding area.  It was an irruption winter for the two boreal forest owl species.  

 
 

by OntPhoto on Wed Dec 14, 2022 7:32 pm
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The cold and recent snow brought in 3 snowy owls to the Eagleson and Fallowfield area.  This is much later than a typical fall where we can see them as early as the beginning of November. Will they stay?

Someone saw a transmitter on the back of this male snowy.  You can barely see what may be the dark tip of an antenna protruding from the lower part of the back feathers.

UPDATE:  December 26, 2022.  There are only two juvenile snowy owls in the Fallowfield and Eagleson area.  I still haven't been in the east end like Orleans, Navan and Petrie Island.  No eBird reports so far. 


Last edited by OntPhoto on Tue Dec 27, 2022 12:48 am, edited 4 times in total.
 

by OntPhoto on Tue Dec 20, 2022 1:36 am
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The white male snowy owl I photographed hasn't been seen for a few days now.  Apparently it's moved to another area in Ontario.  It is a snowy owl named Otter being tracked by Project SNOWstorm.  

My "Instagram" account.

My Instagram
 

by wdg on Wed Dec 28, 2022 6:46 pm
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The Snowys have been showing up in the area - but definitely not in the numbers I’m used to.
Normally they will come in and stick around the same location for week or more.
This year they seem to be just moving through.
Hoping for recovery in nesting areas.
 

by OntPhoto on Thu Dec 29, 2022 8:38 pm
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There are up to 3 snowy owls around the Eagleson and Fallowfield area in Ottawa / Stittsville.  Also a very white male.  Let's see if it is the tagged snowy owl photographed a couple of weeks ago.  These owls wil stick around because they are being fed.  

Someone saw 2 along Akins late today including a white male.  Someone else told me yesterday a male snowy owl was photographed there a couple of days ago.  I photographed another one, more darkly barred, there late today.

The winter is young, still plenty of time to see them. 

eBird Checklist - 29 Dec 2022 - 5616 Akins Road, Ottawa, Ontario, CA (45.239, -75.844) - 1 species


Last edited by OntPhoto on Sun Jan 01, 2023 6:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 

by SantaFeJoe on Sat Dec 31, 2022 10:26 am
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Snowys are apparently vacationing in California:

https://news.yahoo.com/real-snowbird-so ... 06858.html

Joe
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by OntPhoto on Sun Jan 01, 2023 6:18 pm
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SantaFeJoe wrote:Snowys are apparently vacationing in California:

https://news.yahoo.com/real-snowbird-so ... 06858.html

Joe
Maybe hopped onto a ship.  Even then, still very unusual.
 

by OntPhoto on Thu Jan 12, 2023 12:38 pm
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One more update from Project SNOWstorm on snowy owls this winter.

How does this winter stack up?

I had an opportunity to see a Great Gray Owl or two out of town over the holidays.  Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate on the days I had planned to visit.  Still plenty of time left this winter.  I have some info locally but can't share.  Let's see if any show up in January.
 

by OntPhoto on Thu Jan 26, 2023 5:17 am
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Just a quick update.  There are a number of snowy owls around town including at least 3 in the usual area around Fallowfield and Eagleson.  A white male is there as well.  The owls are more visible now because of you know what.  This is a follow-up winter to last year's irruption of great gray owls so not really surprising to see several down here this winter.  I am aware of about 9 stretching from our area eastward to Quebec City.  

I know of a couple of locations where there have been GGOW but I see no pink rectangles in eBird.  So, it's obvious those people are keeping it off the radar.  Bonus, we have a Boreal Owl just across the river.

However, there have been very few reports of northern hawk owls.  I am only aware of two reports and both have been in the Quebec area.  Now, I am sure they are around but people are either keeping quiet or very few have shown up here.  If you really must see one, I have read the reports of one at the Sax Zim Bog.  
 

by OntPhoto on Sun Feb 12, 2023 8:04 pm
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After missing out on several sightings due to work and bad weather, I finally managed to see a great gray owl in Ottawa.  I still intend to visit the one out of town.  From December to early February, I would estimate about 12 great gray owls between Ottawa and Quebec City corridor.  Of course there were probably more but I'm only counting the ones that were reported. This is reasonable for a winter following an irruption year for this species.
 

by OntPhoto on Wed Feb 15, 2023 12:03 pm
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We also have a Boreal Owl.  This image is heavily cropped, taken from a full-frame shot showing the complete owl, snow and background.  Its eyes are wide open only because the owl woke up to finish a meal but accidentally dropped it onto the snow below.  Flew down to retrieve it and therefore the wide open eyes.  Beautiful to see.  7D MK2.


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by Pete Zwiers on Wed Mar 29, 2023 10:54 pm
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Driving back home from Minnesota last week, in Saskatchewan (March 25) we saw 10 snowy owls between Rouleau and Weyburn. Most of them were older, as they were almost all pure white. They sure love those super ugly power poles, so no decent photos.

 
 

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