As you can see in the picture above, all Snowy Owls do not just sit there like lumps of white awesomeness just waiting for a birder to come along and take their picture. Sometimes, if you are lucky, Snowy Owls fly! Well, I guess everyone knows that Snowy Owls fly – they certainly don’t walk from the Arctic. But I can probably count on the fingers of one hand the amount of times that I have seen a Snowy Owl fly that wasn’t a direct result of people getting too close to an owl and flushing it.

This particular owl was spotted by Shawn Billerman as the two of us made our way down Dune Road to Shinnecock Inlet so I could fail, once again, to add Black Guillemot to my New York State list. As we were driving past Shawn said something along the lines of “Pardon me, Corey, but yonder white lump on that pole look strikingly like Bubo scandiacus.”

Rather than stop directly under the owl and flushing it we continued well past the owl, turned the car around, and got out to take some pictures.

Snowy Owl on a pole

Snowy Owl on a pole. I’m sure you’ve seen 1,000 images remarkably similar to this in the last couple of weeks.

We just stood there watching the bird for awhile in the early morning light. It was Shawn’s first of the year, Wyoming student that he is, so we were in no rush to move on. The owl was actively scanning the surrounding dunes looking for a snack before going to roost for the day and it did not seem the least bit bothered by our presence well over a hundred yards away. (The photos in this post are pretty heavily cropped.)

Then it leaned forward, pooped, shook itself, and took off! It flew past us obliquely with the morning sun shining on it from over our shoulders. That made us happy and made our cameras go click-click-click.

Snowy Owl in flight

Snowy Owl in flight

I don’t think I can grow tired of Snowy Owls. Though I might get tired of missing Black Guillemots in New York State. That bird must be seen!

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.