2014: The Winter of the Snowy Owl

April 02, 2014  •  6 Comments

Ken Conway Photography

If you like snowy owls, the winter of 2013-2014 was a record breaking year to see them in New England and many other locations across the northern part of the US.  The majority of the invading owls are young birds, hatched this year, so evidently snowy owls had very good breeding success in the Arctic.  The popular belief is that a population boom in lemmings, the top food for Snowy Owls in the arctic, caused this irruption year for young snowy owls.    

Snowy Owls spend summers in the northernmost parts of Canada, Scandinavia, and Siberia nesting and feeding on various animals, but relying mostly on lemming. Even in winter, most snowy owls in North America stay near the Arctic Circle, with only a small percentage going to southern Canada and northern United States.

The amount of Snowy Owls seen in New England this year was the most seen in over 50 years according to The Audubon Society.  Snowy Owls were spotted on beaches and airports throughout New England this winter.  At Logan Airport in Boston, MA, where Snowy Owls are captured and released each winter, March 15, 2014 marked the 100th snowy owl captured and released. 

I live in southeastern Massachusetts, so I took every opportunity I could to visit local beaches looking for snowy owls.  I found snowy owls at Salisbury Beach, Plum Island, Duxbury Beach, West Island in Fairhaven, Gooseberry Island in Westport, Horseneck Beach, and beaches in Rhode Island. 

This snowy owl was sitting on the rocky beach of Gooseberry Island in Westport, MA.  This bird had very dark markings and seemed to be eating quite well.  I spotted several duck carcasses along the beach that day. 

Snowy Owl

Here is a snowy owl in flight at Duxbury Beach.  Duxbury Beach is a very popular spot for snowy owls and it is one of the locations that snowy owls are released after being captured at Logan Airport in Boston. 

Sleepy Snowy Owl

I walked by this snowy owl several times before another photographer pointed it out on the top of a cedar tree.  This snowy owl seemed to be really enjoying the sunshine as it napped in the midday sun.  He or she never opened its eyes as photographers took its picture and walkers went by unaware of it in the tree.

Snowy Owl in flight

I visited this snowy owl several times over the course of the winter.  He or she spent the winter at the campground at Horseneck Beach in Westport, MA.  The campground is closed in the winter and with the rolling sand dunes, grasses, and shrubs, it makes a great place for a snowy owl and for photo ops.  The snowy owl flew parallel to a paved path giving me a perfect chance to photograph it flying by.

Snowy Owl

 Here is the Horseneck Beach owl watching me from the top of a sand dune.  Below are a few other snowy owl photos.

Snowy Owl


Your photographs are beautiful! How lucky you are to have seen the owl. There was even one down here in Florida!
Rich Edge(non-registered)
Reshma R(non-registered)
Amazing clicks!!! Look forward to many more!
Rich S(non-registered)
Fantastic shots! Congrats on this years adventure with the Snowy Owls. Always learning something new.
Ann B(non-registered)
Very impressive! We've seen them in real life and these pictures really capture their beauty.
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