Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

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January 28, 2014

Snowy owl spotted in Greensburg

(Continued)

It appeared to be a young, immature owl and possibly a female based on the dark barring on the wings and chest. So what is all the fuss about? “Besides being a beautiful bird, it is also quite rare in this part of the state .... In fact, it has been reported that it has been 60 years since the last snowy owl was seen in Decatur County.”

So how long will this owl stay in Greensburg? Good question that only time will tell. Once an owl finds a suitable wintering area, it will generally stay there until it is time to return north to the breeding grounds. In fact, snowies often defend their winter territories fiercely and have been known to return to the same area year after year. “So if you haven’t had a chance to get out and see this regal, long distant migrant, don’t delay. It may be decades before we are fortunate enough to have another one of these snow birds call Greensburg home for the winter.”

Fox stresses, “When viewing or photographing, please remember that these birds should not be approached too closely. Snowy owls are large and can be enjoyed and photographed from a safe distance. Many of these birds are probably food-stressed and need to hunt to maintain their strength. Close approach by birders or photographers could make this much harder for them. Many of these birds are also young and immature and still learning how to hunt effectively. Please view these owls from a safe distance and help others to understand how to act appropriately.”

This majestic owl is one of the few birds that can even get nonbirders to come out and brave the elements for a look. It is the largest of the North American owls, weighing about 4 pounds and having a wingspan of about 4 to 5 feet. Unlike most owls, they are diurnal, which means they may be seen hunting at all hours of the day, either in the Arctic during the continuous daylight or on their wintering grounds.

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