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Downtown Snowy Owl

Posted on Feb 11, 2014

On this past Sunday night, February 9, I was fortunate enough to spot a Snowy Owl flying in downtown Jamestown. At around 10:23PM I observed an individual about 200 feet off the ground heading slowly but surely to the west. I watched the bird drift out of sight without any binoculars or my camera, neither of which would have helped much anyway. In thinking about the sighting afterwards it seemed to me that the bird was following the Chadakoin River.

Snowy Owl - Dunkirk Airport DSC_1084

A Snowy Owl seen last week at Dunkirk Airport

Snowy Owls are both diurnal and nocturnal and over the years I have seen individuals following different patterns at different times at different places. During this major irruption anecdotal evidence from observers like myself and tagged birds in Project Snowstorm has shown us that many of the Atlantic Coast and Great Lakes birds are active more at night, hunting waterfowl of various types along the coast or inland unfrozen waters. Birds further inland and in the Midwest have been hunting more often in the daytime.

I would have to guess that this bird was checking out the Chadakoin while also paying close attention to the warm areas due to urban heat from sources like the power plant. It may have ended up flying all the way over to the Chautauqua Lake outlet or nearby areas which have been unfrozen and holding sometimes a few dozen birds of various species from Canvasback to Redhead and Mallard or Red-necked Grebe. Finding birds is a 24 hour a day task – just remember to always look up.


Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator

Photo © Twan Leenders