The Someplace-Else Owl

I keep hearing about a Snowy Owl being sighted someplace else.

I won’t head over there. Not my style. Not what I stubbornly call two-fisted birding.

Most birding I do is done alone, in my territory.

Mountain lions also have territories that they hunt in. Hunting and bird watching are different sides of the same coin.

My territory covers many square miles. I range all over it. And like any wild beast, when nobody’s looking, I’ll mark a tree.

Within these woods and fields along a river, I see many things that are possible around here. But I let sightings come to me.

(I do the same when hanging with humans. At a party, I get a drink and settle into one spot. People come and go, the ones I want to talk to.)

So, yeah, I see birds on my turf and on my terms.

You don’t need rarities to enjoy birding. But I get somewhat rare ones, sometimes.

“See ya. Someplace else.”

Ospreys and Pileated Woodpeckers, distant Bald Eagles. A Lazuli Bunting. Yellow-headed Blackbirds.

Shrinking groups of Bobolinks. Uncommon Summer Tanagers, an American Bittern. Whooping Cranes overhead.

But I’ve never seen a Snowy Owl.

My territory’s big enough. Let the owl come here, if it wants to get seen.

I’m not going to read about one on a beach near a nuclear plant in the next county, and drive to it.

I’d like to meet one of these owls this winter.

But, so far, the bird’s always turning up someplace else.

Well, it’s a someplace-else owl. And we’re not on each other’s life list yet.

8 Responses to “The Someplace-Else Owl”

  1. L. Pugliares says:

    I recently saw only my second snowy owl…it was the first I’d ever photographed, a dream come true – but the reason I mention it at all is because it WAS within my home territory…and I only found him because I was marking a tree….

    Not kidding!

  2. Ron White says:

    I saw a snowy when I was very young long before I had any great interest in birds. What interested me then was that it was the same bird that I saw pictured on cigar boxes. As a hunter and a birder I also agree on the similarities of these activities – knowing your territory – having the patience to sit and wait. In fact, I do some of my best birding while hunting.

  3. Bill Webb says:

    I’m not a chaser myself, in fact I stopped listing years ago. However, I have friends, prominent in the birding community, who derive great pleasure from the pursuit.

    To each his own, sez I.

  4. Tom Robinson says:

    I haven”t seen a snowy either. I live in south Florida, but I’ll keep an eye out next time it snows.

  5. Steven Valleau says:

    You’re my kind of birder. I am also on a Snowy Owl quest. I’ve been birding since I was 9 years old, had Roger Tory Peterson sign my copy of his field guide when I was ten(1968), been birding ever since but I have never seen a Snowy Owl. My birding friends, who I rarely go out with, being a territorial loner like you, saw two Snowy Owls on Cadillac Mountain(not my territory) on the same day I was looking for one yet again on “my” adjacent mountain. I love my mountain: no road up, no trees on top, and the oldest pond in Maine on it’s shoulder. That mountain is where I want to see a Snowy Owl so that’s where I go to see one. I usually bird alone but if you’re every in my area I’ll share my quest and a beer with you. By the way I see a Bald Eagle everytime I go the dump. By keeping my eyes open doing my usual routine I have seen some amazing birds. It works.

  6. Donna Nitengale says:

    Hi. Here’s a sighting you can see without leaving your territory…and it’s fun…I just wanted to tell u about a hot video on utube—-“crow sledding.” People might enjoy seeing it.

  7. Janet Levers says:

    I couldn’t agree more about the futility of going to search for Snowy Owls afar. I live in CA, and was only visiting in MN in the ’90s. My uncle had taken me to the MS river to see Bald Eagles, trumpeter swans, and we were heading to Rochester thru snowy, empty fields near Rushford. I SCREAMED “stop” as we passed a snowy on top of a phone pole. The snowy female obligingly posed there for a bit, then flew to a nearby hillock. That sighting was so much more memorable than 1) planning/booking a plane trip to NE 2) hassling an airport, renting a car 3) tripping down unknown roads, with an unsure possibility ahead. I love the surprises that birding brings.

  8. I’m new to your blog and enjoying it! But I have to say, isn’t this posting just a tiny bit at variance with the previous one? Not totally inconsistent, I wouldn’t say that… I guess each of us has our guidelines about how much we’ll exert ourselves for what we like.

    Sandhill cranes and tundra swans in the flooded fields, GBHs and pintails among them. Winter has a few charms.