Whether birder or not, this winter’s Snowy Owl invasion has been one of great joy for many Northwest Indiana residents. It’s introduced a large number of folks to not just Snowy Owls, but to the world of birds. No simple Hedwig. These birds have given awe to hundreds of visitors that have sought them out. The Dunes State Park has helped well over 150 people to see their very first Snowy Owl in the last three months. Numbers will still trickle in around the state, but no doubt, some 90-95% of the season’s owls have been logged already. A few stragglers will likely be one day wonders as they make their way back north now that the days are getting longer and temperatures finally rise.
This season has seen some strange locations for Snowy Owls, as well as some record high counts, both by location and single observer. Locally, the Snowy Owl seen on top of the Aldi’s Food Store in Michigan City may be the strangest spot one was located. More usual, airports hosted many birds, including the Porter Co. Airport in Valparaiso, Michigan City Airport, and the Gary/Chicago International Airport. A few owls were in precarious locations that were susceptible to human intrusion and could have easily been harassed. These owl reports were not shared to the public, when possible. When the season is completely over, we’ll share an entire list of every Snowy Owl that we know of in Indiana this past winter.
For now, there is still one notable Snowy Owl in the area. She (our assumptions based on plumage photos) has been fairly reliable since mid-December. She has had lots of windswept agricultural area to feed in. This remaining bird in the area may be one of your last dependable moments to catch a glimpse of an amazing Snowy Owl before they head back to the arctic realm to the north. For those that haven’t been over there yet, follow SR 421, south out of Michigan City, through Westville, and to it’s intersection with County Road 800 south. A short jog east of the intersection is the most reliable spot for her. She tends to sit right in plain sight on the ground or occasionally on the irrigation systems out i the field. Recent eBird reports can be used as a good guide for finding where she has been seen recently.
Since these birds could leave any day now, this upcoming weekend may be as good a time as ever to get one last look. Who knows, maybe a Snowy Owl will cross our paths from the Bird Observation Tower in the coming weeks!?
Here are two great photos taken by Rodney Ervin, of Winamac, recently. Thanks for allowing us to share these great shots!