If you have any interest in birds…or Harry Potter and Hedwig…or just unexpected beauty, you’ve probably heard about the irruption of snowy owls in areas south of their usual Arctic habitat this winter. I’ve been hoping to see one, and for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been haunting bird watching websites, paying attention to reported sightings, and dragging my family out on owl-searching drives (all of which turned out to be wild goose chases.)
Today, I had plans to meet my friend Linda for lunch in Vermont and decided to take the long way home so I could drive through Addison, where a number of snowy owls had been spotted this week. I knew it was a long shot. If you’ve read Jane Yolen’s OWL MOON, you know all too well that sometimes there’s an owl, and sometimes there isn’t. But I was hoping…and then I spotted something that made my heart jump.
A snowy owl – a female, based on what I’ve read from experienced bird watchers who’ve spotted her -was perched in a tree just off the road. I watched her for about half an hour. She was mostly still but obviously hunting. Twice, she flew from the tree over the fields. Once, she plunged into some weeds but came up empty and returned to her spot.
She was stunning. And I’m so glad I took the long way home.