Remembering a Snowy Winter

Snowy owl at Presque Isle State Park, 29 Nov 2013 (photo by Shawn Collins)

7 January 2024

It’s been 10 years since the spectacular winter of 2013-2014 when snowy owls irrupted in the Lower 48 States. That winter they invaded the Northeastern U.S. and traveled as far south as coastal North Carolina, Florida and Bermuda!

This year a few snowies are visiting the Great Lakes region but the only concentration of owls is in western Canada. You can see the difference in their eBird sightings in these maps of 2013-2014 versus 2023-2024. (Click here to see the eBird Explore map.)

In 2013-2014 there were so many snowy owls that photographers often saw peregrine falcons attacking them. Steve Gosser captured this still shot at Presque Isle State Park in December 2013.

Peregrine falcon attacking snowy owl at Gull Point, Erie, PA, 1 Dec 2013 (photo by Steve Gosser)

Tom Johnson filmed two peregrines harassing snowy owls at Stone Harbor, New Jersey in January 2014.

Peregrines attack snowy owls at Stone Harbor, NJ in Jan 2014 (Video embedded from Cornell Lab on YouTube)

It was also a snowy weather winter. 2013-2014 was very cold with enduring snow on the ground because of the “Polar Vortex.”

This year is much warmer — so much so that yesterday’s snow melted overnight, as seen at the Pitt peregrine nestbox.

Snow melted overnight in Pittsburgh: 6 Jan 2024 afternoon vs 7 Jan morning (via the National Aviary’s snapshot camera)

This winter we’re missing both snowies and snow.

(credits are in the captions)

One thought on “Remembering a Snowy Winter

  1. Steve’s photo of the falcon and owl at Presque Isle is priceless. I wish I had known about it for use in the Three Rivers Birding Club newsletter.

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