For local bird watchers, this has been one of the best winters ever for spotting the snowy owl.
Shirley Lally, a volunteer at the refuge, told Newport Patch the birds, usually native to the Arctic region, have been moving south because the food supply in the Arctic region is down. Other common names for the owl are the Arctic Owl, Great White Owl or Harfang. Although the bird’s native home is the circumpolar region, it is considered to be a nomadic species when fluctuations in its food source population force it relocate.
Lally said that despite the seaside location of the sightings, the bird does not feed from sea. “They don’t dive for fish, they are not sea-birds,” said Lally. “They eat rodents and small animals. They are moving south, looking for food.”
On Thursday, Jan 9, the Born to be Wild Nature Center set free a snowy owl that was found injured at Quonset Point last month. On Sunday, it released another snowy owl back into the wild. By mid March, the owl should make her way North and arrive back in the Artic in time for summer, according to the Born to be Wild Facebook page.
But the question remains, how can you spot this elusive owl around Newport, RI? “Look around in the trees and ponds and in open areas near the ocean and look for anything out of the ordinary,” said Middletown resident Stephen P. Ford who frequently captures the owl on camera.