Snowy Owl at Bradford Beach in Milwaukee Wisconsin on December 15, 2017

A nice surprise! As I sat in my car looking for any sign of a gull at Bradford Beach this morning off in a distance I spotted this big white bird flying to the south. It was over the water and then heading right towards me. Still off in a distance, I thought, gezz, this gull, looks almost like a Snowy Owl. As I watched, it landed on the beach, to my surprise, it was a Snowy Owl. As I was getting out of my car, I was not surprised to see a dog walker with their dog walking towards me. I quickly got a few images as I knew time time was running out with this dog coming. I watched the owl look to the road, then back towards the dog, that was it, the owl headed out over the water. I never saw a Snowy Owl on a beach before, not that I could remember. It was a dull morning with cloudy skies, temps around 16, and a good wind out of the west. Images were taken on December 15, 2017.

Snowy Owl right after landing…

The head pops up…

The Snowy Owl looks to the road…

The Snowy Owl looks to the dog getting closer…

And off it goes out over the water…

Snowy Owl in the snow at the Lake Express in Milwaukee Wisconsin on December 9, 2017

With the first snow fall of the season that I was present in Milwaukee, I checked the Lake Express for a Snowy Owl. A Snowy Owl was present just enjoying the snow falling. It looked right at home in this surrounding. It was very cold, with temps in the high teens, and a stiff wind out of the north with cloudy skies, it felt like below zero. Images were taken on December 9, 2017.

Snowy Owl Snoozing with the Moon in Milwaukee County Wisconsin on December 8, 2017

While doing some birding in Milwaukee County this morning I came across a Snowy Owl. It was perched on top of a large dirt pile. For the most part the Snowy Owl was resting and left undisturbed, a couple of times the eyes almost opened.  The moon made a nice back drop for the Snowy Owl image. I took a couple of images and left the area. It was a very cold morning, full sun with temps in the teens, stiff winds made it bitter cold out there. Images were taken on December 8, 2017.

Snowy Owl snoozing with the moon…

Snowy Owl at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee Wisconsin on November 28, 2017

Starting out birding at Lakeshore State Park in the morning provided great views of a not only the beautiful Purple Sandpiper I recently reported, but also a stunning Snowy Owl. Walking the paths at the park the Snowy Owl was found sitting in a large rock area between some rocks. Staying a good distance away motionless I sat for about 20 minutes and then the bird perched up on a higher rock for another 20 minutes. Under no pressure, I was waiting patiently for a flight shot, the owl eventually took flight and flew over and landed middle of the walk bridge to the island and landed on the railing. A woman walking walked up the bridge not even seeing owl along with a gull all came together at once and I heard a scream! The owl flew to the fishing pier to where I was near. The Snowy Owl sat on the hand railing there for about 15 minutes before a family walked out on the fishing pier for a family photo shoot with the skyline not seeing the owl. The owl flushed across the lagoon to some rocks near the water. It took 3 drinks in front of a handful of Mallards. There was not interaction between the Snowy Owl and ducks. After about 15 minutes at that location the Snowy Owl flew to the north out of sight. Maybe out to a breakwall. The Snowy Owl put on an amazing show. I stopped at Lakeshore State Park this morning for some general birding, no sign of the Snowy Owl, it is hanging out some where else I guess. That Lakeshore State Park sure presents some great birds on an annual basis, wow! Images were taken on November 28, 2017.

Images are in order of the way the events happened…

Hanging out between some big rocks at the park…

Always looking around in all directions for predators…

Perches up on a large rock, then minutes later the Snowy Owl flies to the walk bridge to the island at the park…

Always looking around in all directions for predators…tail up, looks like he is about to fly….

Here the Snowy Owl flies to the walk bridge to the island and lands on the railing, then the walker comes along… and it flushes to the fishing pier

Flying to the fishing pier…

Perched on the fishing pier railing…

Moments before the family walks up the ramp to the fishing pier…

The Snowy Owl flies across to this location and immediately takes a drink, a total of 3 here as the Mallards go about their business…

It appeared there was absolutely interaction between the ducks and the Snowy Owl…

Drinking…

Right after a drink…

After the drink and some passing time, the Snowy Owl takes to the sky and heads north out of sight…

Snowy Owl at the Lake Express Ferry in Milwaukee Wisconsin on November 14, 2017

The Snowy Owl along the lakefront in Milwaukee gave nice views this morning. Not much action other than some preening and a yawn. Still nice to see this beautiful owl. Images were taken on November 14, 2017.

A little preening here…

The yawn…

 

Laying low as a Northern Harrier was in the area

 

In the planter

Snowy Owl at the Lake Express Ferry in Milwaukee Wisconsin on November, 6 2017

The highlight on the Milwaukee lakefront this morning was a Snowy Owl at the Lake Express Ferry. It only hung around resting on top of a container for a couple of minutes before took off and landed on the breakwall. A majestic bird that always makes you stare at it. It was a cold day with temps around 35 degrees and some sun and a breeze. Images were taken on November 6, 2017

Snowy Owl

Binomial name: Bubo scandiacus

Category: Typical Owls

Description: Adult males are mostly white with a few dark feather tips.  Adult females and juveniles are white with dark scalloping on chest, back, wings, and tail.  Yellow eyes, black beak, and feathery feet.

Size: 20”- 28” long, 49” – 59” wingspan

Weight: 3.5 lb. – 6.6 lb.

Habitat: Wide open, treeless spaces such as shorelines, lakes, open fields, and agricultural sites.

Snowy Owl on the Milwaukee Lakefront on October 31, 2017

A Snowy Owl was found on the Milwaukee lakefront this morning. It had caught an American Coot for something to eat and was sitting on that during the picture taking. The bird never moved from the spot while I was present. First one of the fall season reported in the area that I know of. It was a cold morning with stiff winds and little sun to warm up with. Images were taken on October 31, 2017.

Snowy Owl with the American Coot

Snowy Owl

Binomial name: Bubo scandiacus

Category: Typical Owls

Description: Adult males are mostly white with a few dark feather tips.  Adult females and juveniles are white with dark scalloping on chest, back, wings, and tail.  Yellow eyes, black beak, and feathery feet.

Size: 20”- 28” long, 49” – 59” wingspan

Weight: 3.5 lb. – 6.6 lb.

Habitat: Wide open, treeless spaces such as shorelines, lakes, open fields, and agricultural sites.

Just looking around, this bird seemed content just sitting there. Probably resting from a long flight…

The back view…

Barred and Long-eared Owls in the falling snow in Wisconsin on March 13, 2017

With a day of falling snow, it was be a great day to check out a few owls. I checked out a few spots with a little luck. The Barred Owl was hunkered down when found, it never moved. The Long-eared Owls sat tight as well. With the snow falling on and off during the day, it made for a winter wonderland atmosphere out in the woods. Images were taken on March 13, 2017

The Barred Owl blends right in, how exciting!

The Barred Owl blends right in, how exciting!

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Barred nest hole...

Barred Owl nest hole…

Long-eard Owl with snow...

Long-eard Owl with snow…

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The Long-eared Owl is hidden pretty well....

The Long-eared Owl is hidden pretty well….

Barred Owls in Wisconsin on February 23, 2017

The highlight out birding today was setting my binoculars on a couple of Barred Owls. They did a little flying around on their own and surprisingly one could not be relocated as they just blend in. Image is one of the two seen. Image was taken on February 23, 2017

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Barred Owl

Binomial name: Strix varia

Category: Typical Owls

Size: 21” long, 42” wing span

Weight: 1.6 lb

Eastern Screech-Owl in Milwaukee County Wisconsin on April 9, 2016

An Eastern Screech-Owl, a red morph giving great views this afternoon in Milwaukee County Wisconsin. What a beautiful owl! Always amazes me how they blend in with the habitat you see them in, but that is one reason they can survive. Images were taken on April 9, 2016.

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Eastern Screech-Owl

Binomial name: Otus asio

Category: Typical Owls

Size: 8.5” long, 20” wing span

Weight: 6 oz

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Eastern Screech Owl, Horned Grebes, Common Loon and Killdeer in the snow in Milwaukee County Wisconsin on March 25, 2016

I did a little birding this morning on the lakefront on Milwaukee’s south side. The Lake Express Ferry had ~6 Killdeer and they were for the most part hunkered down with the snow that fell yesterday waiting for things to warm up and melt. South Shore Yacht Club had up to 8 Horned Grebes going into breeding plumage. Dave G, thank you Dave, alerted me of 2 Common Loons near the Petroleum Pier when I was at the Express, by the time I got over there, there was still one present in breeding plumage. The loon pretty much stayed out away from shore but it is really nice to see the first loon of the year. After returning to SSYC I ran into a team of birder-photograhers, Todd, Caron, Keith, Valerie and Bruce too. Todd told me about a Eastern Screech Owl he had just found and I checked it out, thank you Todd. Cool to see a Eastern Screech Owl in a natural cavity. It was a fun morning out with some friends I have not seen for awhile and meeting some new ones too. Sunny morning with a bright blue sky cool temps, but winds made it still feel like winter. Images were taken on March 25, 2016.

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Eastern Screech Owl

Binomial name: Otus asio

Category: Typical Owls

Size: 8.5” long, 20” wing span

Weight: 6 oz

Amazing how the owl blends in with the habitat.

Amazing how the owl blends in with the habitat

Horned Grebe

Horned Grebe

Horned Grebe

Horned Grebe

Horned Grebe preening

Horned Grebe preening

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Horned Grebe

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Horned Grebe

Common Loon, distant shot

Common Loon, distant shot

Killdeer in the snow!

Killdeer in the snow!

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Killdeer

Killdeer calling

Killdeer calling

Killdeer resting

Killdeer resting

Killdeer

Killdeer

Killdeer

Killdeer

Killdeer

Killdeer

Long-eared Owls in Wisconsin on January 28, 2016

I have looked high and low for this species over the years and today I stumbled across them, the Long-eared Owls. It was a thrill to see them and to finally get this life bird for the state. There were numerous birds present at this site which I cannot disclose. Such beautiful birds they are, smaller in size then I had thought. Images were taken on January 28, 2016.

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Long-eared Owl

Binomial name: Asio otus

Category: Typical Owls

Size: 15” long, 36” wing span

Weight: 9 oz

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Snowy Owl at the Lake Express in Milwaukee Wisconsin on December 30, 2015

On a gloomy day with some on and off snow flurries the highlight on Milwaukee’s lakefront today was finding a Snowy Owl at the Lake Express Ferry. It sat on a container the time I was there. Bruce joined me and enjoyed the views too. We had been together earlier at Bradford Beach watching 4 nice Great Black-backed Gulls on the beach but were in the water more than out. The Snowy Owl seemed to be in the hunting mode but never went for anything. It did some preening and resting but that was about it. I think it is a male but have not really studied it yet. A nice way to end the year with seeing the 1st Snowy Owl of the season. 2 hunting Northern Harriers  and a American Kestrel also made themselves present at the Lake Express. Images were taken on December 30, 2015.

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Snowy Owl

Binomial name: Bubo scandiacus

Category: Typical Owls

Description: Adult males are mostly white with a few dark feather tips.  Adult females and juveniles are white with dark scalloping on chest, back, wings, and tail.  Yellow eyes, black beak, and feathery feet.

Size: 20”- 28” long, 49” – 59” wingspan

Weight: 3.5 lb. – 6.6 lb.

Habitat: Wide open, treeless spaces such as shorelines, lakes, open fields, and agricultural sites.

Diet: Small mammals such as rodents, lemmings, voles, mice, rats, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, and other birds such as shorebirds, songbirds, ducks, geese, and pheasants.

Nesting: The female builds a nest on a mound with good visibility.  She scrapes away the top layer of soil and, over several days, presses her body into the ground to make a depression.  She will lay a clutch of 3 to 11 eggs and incubate them for about 5 weeks.  Both parents will defend the nest and care for the hatchlings which are born pure white.  The same nest may be used year after year.

Notes: Snowy owls are considered the heaviest owl in North America, weighing about a pound more than its closest contender, the Great Horned Owl.  A snowy owl was featured in the Harry Potter series when Harry received his pet, Hedwig.  It is also the official bird of Quebec.

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