Several reports of Snowy Owl sightings across the U.P. have been teasing Ryne and I for a few weeks now. If your lucky, you might spot one near water or in an open field. If your really lucky you might have one land on your car while waiting in a drive-through line at a bank (Yes, this happened in Iron Mountain). We were hoping to spot one of these beautiful white owls close to our home on the Stonington Peninsula, but had no luck.
Our luck changed when we finally found not one, not two, but THREE Snowy Owls at the Menominee River Mouth on November 17 at 10AM. (This is on the Michigan/Wisconsin border on Lake Michigan). They were sitting on their densely feathered feet on the break wall tolerating the skin-piercing wind and frigid cold like a clump of snow. These yellow-eyed owls were such a thrill to see! Two were very light with just a peppering of black specs, and the other was more heavily barred with black. Typically, male Snowy Owls are more white and the females and juveniles are darker.
In the summer, Snowy Owls breed on the Arctic Tundra. They scrape a small hollow nest on the ground and lay 3-11 eggs, depending on prey abundance. They mostly eat lemmings, mice and hare, but will also eat songbirds. This year seems like an interruption year with so many Snowy Owls seen already, which means prey numbers were likely high.
In winter, some Snowy Owls (more if its a big irruption year) migrate south and start popping up across southern Canada and Northern U.S., including the Great Lakes Region. Occasionally, they show up as far south as Florida, Texas and even Hawaii.
Good luck spotting your own Snowy or maybe someone will get extremely lucky and spot one of the other Northern Hemisphere owls, like the Phantom of the North (a Great Grey Owl), Boreal or Hawk-owl.