[Tweeters] How does this Snowy Owl year compare?

Wayne C. Weber contopus at telus.net
Tue Dec 6 00:54:16 PST 2005


Birders,

Stewart's question about "How big is this year's Snowy Owl flight?"
is a good one. The answer depends largely on where you are reporting
from.

In southwestern BC, this is the second Snowy Owl flight year in a row.
Last winter, up to 8 Snowy Owls spent most of the winter around
Vancouver. This winter, so far, I have heard of a maximum of only
6 being seen in one day around Vancouver. However, last winter,
to the best of my recollection, there were NO Snowy Owl sightings in
western Washington and Oregon, and only a couple east of
the Cascades. The Snowy Owls basically stopped at the US/Canada
border.

This winter, I have not been impressed by the large number of
Snowy Owls. What I have been impressed by, is how far south they have
travelled. So far, the southernmost is near Coos Bay, Oregon. However,
ignoring birds east of the Cascades, my rough count is a total of only
about 7 Snowy Owls in western Oregon, and about 18 in western
Washington. I have heard of no more than 4 Snowies in one spot
south of Vancouver (at the Nisqually R. Delta). In a major flight year
such as 1996/97 or 1973/74, there would be more Snowy Owls than
these 25 or so  just in the Vancouver area.

Gene Hunn's recollection of the 1973/74 flight year is pretty accurate.
However, the total from the Ladner Christmas Bird Count was only
107 Snowy Owls, not 120+ as Gene stated. (I believe that is still the
North American high count for the CBC for this species.) In 1996,
the Ladner count tallied a mere 62 Snowy Owls, and in 1984, another
major flight year, there were 40. By these standards, this winter is
a flight year, but definitely not a "major" flight year.

However, considering how infrequently Snowy Owls make it as far south
as Oregon, I did make a quick run down to the South Jetty of the Columbia
on Nov. 27 and 28, so that I could add Snowy Owl to my Oregon list.
I had great looks at 2 of the 3 Snowy Owls that have been present there.
(Thanks to the numerous birders who provided frequent updates on OBOL.
On the way, I also stopped at Luhr Beach near Olympia, and was able to
see 3 of the 4 Snowies off the mouth of the Nisqually. Whether there are
a few Snowy Owls or many of them, they are always a treat to see.


Wayne C. Weber
Delta, BC
contopus at telus.net




----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Eugene and Nancy Hunn" <enhunn323 at comcast.net>
To: "Stewart Wechsler" <ecostewart at quidnunc.net>; "tweeters"
<tweeters at u.washington.edu>
Sent: Monday, December 05, 2005 8:51 PM
Subject: Re: [Tweeters] How does this Snowy Owl year compare?


Stewart & Tweets,

For us old timers the banner year was the winter of 1973-1974. On a day trip
to the Skagit in March of 1974 I counted 54 Snowies (which seems to indicate
that many if not most survive the winter quite well, thank you) and there
were as many as 7 at one time on the roof of Hec Edmondson Pavilion on the
UW campus plus a high count of 120+ on the Ladner BC CBC, etc. Check
the CBC records for that year. I was out of the country for the 1996-1997
flight but it seems it was not quite as massive.

Gene Hunn
18476 47th Pl NE
Lake Forest Park, WA
enhunn323 at comcast.net\

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Stewart Wechsler" <ecostewart at quidnunc.net>
To: "tweeters" <tweeters at u.washington.edu>
Sent: Monday, December 05, 2005 7:03 PM
Subject: [Tweeters] How does this Snowy Owl year compare?


> As I haven't been paying close attention for more than the last 5 or 6
> years
> or so I don't know if this is more Snowy Owls than other big Snowy Owl
> years, but it seems like one of the biggest Snowy Owl years for Washington
> State.  Can others who have been following this more closely for more
> years
> tell how this year compares to other big Snowy Owl years so far?
>
> Stewart Wechsler
> Ecological Consulting
> West Seattle
> 206 932-7225
> ecostewart at quidnunc.net
>



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