Majestic and rare, snowy owls migrate into Chicagoland

CHICAGO — Snowy owls typically breed in arctic regions such as northern Canada and Alaska. But in the winter months, they can migrate as far south as Chicago’s lakeshore. 

And spotting one can be a magical experience, according to some in the birding community.

They eat a variety of food including small rodents and waterfowl. Snowy Owls do a lot of sitting, sometimes not moving from the same spot for hours.  

Tami Peden drove from Skokie to a Chicago lakefront harbor to catch a glimpse. 

Photo credit: Mark Gibboney 

“The last one I saw was five years ago,” she said. “They are stunning and to see one in person is quite an experience.”  

It is discouraged to publicize their specific locations to assist with their conservation and safety. 

“Give them space,” Edward Warden, President of the Chicago Ornithological Society, said. “Wildlife photographers follow a very strict code of ethics. One of those things is not harassing wildlife to get that money shot. That takes time and patience.”  

Photo credit: Seth Konner

For more photographs from the Chicagoland area check out the eBird website operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 

The area where the snowy owl has taken refuge is closed off to the public. Wildlife enthusiasts are asking members of the public to avoid gathering there, in order to protect the creature’s adopted habitat. 

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