Snowy Owl at Merrill Creek Reservoir, NJ

Alex LamoreauxBird Finding Tips, Chase, General News and Info, Identification, Photography, Rarities12 Comments

On November 8th, Ray Richkus spotted a Snowy Owl while fishing in Merrill Creek Reservoir, Warren County, New Jersey. Word quickly spread, and many birders were able to see the bird the next day. Four of my friends and I decided to chase the owl, and left State College at 5:00am and made it to the reservoir by 8:30am. Some park employees let us take a quick look at the owl through their spotting scope from across the reservoir, and then we walked around to get a better, closer look. For the entire time we were watching the owl (two hours) it did not move from where it was sitting. The owl was perched on the ground along the shoreline and hunkered down between large pieces of driftwood. Occasionally the owl would sit upright and alert and look around, or glance up at crows flying overhead, but generally the owl just sat still with its eyes closed, resting. There appears to be a bit of blood smeared on the right side of the owl’s face, which hopefully indicates it made a kill, but no one has actually see it with prey yet. People have, however, seen it flying along the shoreline seemingly hunting. Based on plumage characteristics, it has been decided the bird is most likely a juvenile female.

Snowy Owl - juvenile female at Merrill Creek Reservoir (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Snowy Owl - juvenile female at Merrill Creek Reservoir (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Snowy Owl - juvenile female at Merrill Creek Reservoir (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Snowy Owl - juvenile female at Merrill Creek Reservoir (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Snowy Owl - juvenile female at Merrill Creek Reservoir (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)