Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Up on the Rooftop

As I’ve discussed earlier, I’m not the sort of birder who keeps lists, nor am I the sort of birder who hops in the car to travel miles and miles in hopes of seeing a bird that someone else spotted and reported. It just doesn’t seem good for the birds, does it, to use a lot of fossil fuels to chase them down?

Ienjoy being a “patch” birder, getting to know the birds in my neighborhood and enjoying the few rarities that show up now and then.

Still, I like seeing rare and interesting birds as much as the next birder. If my usual route takes me within reasonable distance of where some interesting bird has been sighted, or if the sighting is within, say, 15 miles of home or office, then yes, I’ll sally forth.

Such was the case a few days ago, when
a Snowy Owl was reported in Hartford, about ten miles from where I live.

Even if you’re not a birder, you’ve probably heard about the irruption of Snowy Owls into our region this winter. It’s really quite extraordinary.

I’ve never seen a Snowy Owl (or have I?…) and certainly with all the Snowies in the area, my hopes have been high that perhaps this winter I might finally see one. On every trip out, I scan fields, rooftops, utility poles...just in case. I keep an eye on all the reports in the tri-state area in case my travels take me near where any have been sighted. So far, I’d had no luck in my immediate area.

So it was with a little thrill that on Tuesday I learned that a Snowy was showing reliably in downtown Hartford. I had just come in from a pleasant encounter with a Sharp-shinned Hawk, but I had a quick lunch, made a cup of tea, and headed out again.

Ten minutes later, I was seeing my first-ever Snowy Owl.

The bird – probably a young female – was hunkered down behind the parapet atop a two-story office building. I could see the top of her head and occasionally her whole face. 

Despite the limited view, I was delighted.

Reports from online sources indicate that she has been finding prey and seems well. Perhaps in a few days I’ll see her again. If not, well, that’s fine, too.

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