Reports from researchers up north indicate that this past breeding season was a record year for Snowy Owls, with loads of young successfully raised. As these birds run out of food resources or face more competition from the increased population, they are being forced southward. Many other states have been reporting Snowy Owls for over a month now, and finally Pennsylvania is starting to get its share of the fun. Here we will be trying to keep an updated account of all the Snowy Owl activity in Pennsylvania during this irruption year. Please leave any comments and updates in the comments below. So far there have been 11 reports of Snowy Owls in Pennsylvania that we know of with 7confirmed with photos.

Armstrong County

2/22- reported to listserv by John Fedak near New Bethlehem. Not refound the following day.

Armstrong County Snowy Owl, photo provide by Erin Lufsey

2/23-  Possibly the same bird, near Grey’s Colonial Gardens Assisted Living. Kittanning, Pa 16201, on 2/23/2012. Photos by Alex Wiegand.

March 14 & 15-  owl seen my multiple observers in Worthington PA that may be the same bird. All three sightings were within about a 5-mile radius.

Photo by Steve Gosser

Chester County

Spring City 12/20 – 12/25 Seen Tuesday and Wednesday by the land owners and then refound on Friday the 22nd. Alex got photos of this bird on Friday, 12/23. This bird seemed to spend its time hanging out either on top of RV’s near S&W Race Cars or on top of the roof of the PJAX Freight Service building, nearby. It was last seen on Christmas Day.

Clearfield County

2/23/2012 – A Snowy Owl was apparently photographed near mile marker 113 along Interstate 80 in Clearfield County.

Cumberland County

Shippensburg 1/11- 2/18/2012 (not reported since 2/18, updated 3/6) Originally reported by Al Guarante north of Shippensburg near the intersection of Duncan and Mud Level Rds. It has been seen from the sub-station parking lot. Alex saw it on 1/16. Google Map of area

Delaware County

12/15-17/2011 – Exelon Power Plant in Eddystone. The power plant is off-limits to the public and the photo was taken by the plant’s wildlife conservation officer who monitors a pair of Peregrines that nest there. The last known date of observation was 12/17/2012. The bird was sitting atop a huge mountain of coal.

photo was taken by the plant's wildlife conservation officer

Erie County

Presque Isle State Park Two different birds. First one was seen at Gull Point on 12/17 and the second at breakwater 57 on 12/19. Additional photos of the second owl, taken by Katie Andersen, can be seen at this link.

Jefferson County

2/20/12 – This bird was reported in Moore Cemetery west of DuBois along State Road 2025 and 322. Photo was provided by Trudy Garvey.

Snowy Owl - Jefferson County (photo by Trudy Garvey)

Northampton County

2/28/2012 – possible Snowy Owl a little south of Bath. No further details.

Philadelphia County

Northeast Philadelphia Airport 12/14/11-1/6/12? – Originally seen Dec 14 by airport security, it was not refound until Jan 6. eBird checklist.

Somerset County

Somerset 1/12/12 – Report by Mike Lanzone to PA RBA text alert of an owl perched on a barn at Kline and Geiger Rds. It was not refound later in the day on 1/12 or the next day despite several people looking for it.

Also a report of a snowy owl on a telephone pole on Route 31 south of the Somerset Airport in early February and another possible sighting at the landfill down the road from there on Feb 16.


Merrill Creek Reservoir, New Jersey 11/2011-present There has been an immature female Snowy Owl at Merrill Creek Reservoir since early November, and it is still being seen daily. Alex took some photos soon after it was first discovered. Check the New Jersey Birding listserve for updates.

  • Alison Fetterman

    Just got back from the area, no sign of the bird unfortunatley!  Hopefully someone else spotted it!

    • Alison Fetterman

      Sorry…the Spring City area that is!

      • Jackie

        We saw a snowy owl @ the Saint Marys Airport (Elk county )this evening around 6 pm .Was beautiful ! 2/25/14
        This was the second one for us .First one was on River run Rd in between Warren and Jamestown N Y the end of Jan 2014

    • Thanks for the update Alison. Hopefully it is refound. I’d like to go look for it sometime late next week.

  • Thanks for the update Alison. Looks like it hasn’t been seen recently.

  • I am looking for information on the Shippensburg area Snowy Owl for photography purposes, if anyone has any current info and would like to share it you can email me at

    Thank you—Fred Thompson

  • It is still being seen. You can use directions on the PAbirds listserv and the map above to find it.

    • Ratherbeinitaly

      Is the snowy owl still being seen in Shippensburg?

  • Jenniferhs

    Hello Drew–

    Jennifer Schrock here from Merry Lea. I am trying to reach you for a brief interview about what you are currently doing for the Merry Leaflet. We are running a series on our “alumni.” Can you email me at with your contact info?

  • Greg Martin

    I believe that I saw a Snowy Owl back in Oct. 2011. It was on Mud Level Road between Britton Road and Newburg Road.  It was on the roadway snacking on a roadway kill.

    • October would be exceptionally early for a Snowy Owl in Pennsylvania. Most reports start in January with some in December as well. 

  • Erica

    late Dec 2011.  my husband and i saw this bird very high up in a tree by the Philadelphia Art Musuem (around 25th and Art Museum Drive).  I got out my binoculars, thought it was a snowy owl, but thought that was impossible.   We were there for a while and left assuming it was some bird with white feathers we never knew of.  Now, after reading all about the influx of snowy owls from up north, there is no doubt in my mind that is what we saw.  

  • calicorose12

    I have been told that the Snowy Owl in Shippensburg, PA on Mud Level Road has not been seen since they plowed the fields.  Can anyone confirm that?  I was there on Monday, February 6 and did an extensive search, but found no signs of the owl.

    • Reported on the listserv this morning – 

      All, I just received a call from Bob Koontz stating that he refound the Mud Level Rd Snowy Owl this morning at daybreak. The bird was currently behind the amish school house near the three-silo farm. This would be west of the Mud Level and Duncan Rd intersections.

      • Calicorose12

        Thanks for the information, Drew.  We continue to return to the area, but have yet to see him!

  • Andy

    Has the Snowy Owl in Shippensburg been seen recently?

    • Drew Weber

      I don’t think its been reported recently, despite folks looking for it.

    • Not that I have heard

  • Jacque Caringola

    I saw what I believe was a snowy owl on Johnsonburg Rd / Rt 255 between Johnsonburg and St Mary’s (Elk Co). This was on February 16th. I unfortunately did not have my camera with me. I saw it flying and it landed on a post just off the side of the road.

    • Thanks for the report. Sightings of Snowy Owls continue to slowly filter in so it is definitely worth keeping our eyes open for new ones.

  • Marge

    Great site–thanks to all involved in it and an update on the Snowy Owl in Armstrong County.  It was seen on the Bowser Farm (medium-sized white barn) on Gormley Road this morning by several people, including MHigbee and myself and I spoke with the farmer who says it has been here for 2 weeks.  So, with that in mind what are the possibilities it is same one that was seen in Distant (near New Bethlehem, PA) and Kittanning?  I would say good, but there is always that possibility of 2?

    • Of course it is hard to know, but all three photos look like very white birds so I think chances are good that it is one bird moving around a lot.

  • This is such exciting news for PA!

  • Brandi Wilson

    Here he is on Slatelick RD Worthington, PA

  • Tiffany Baptiste

    I have seen the snowy owl in Worthington pa. Got lots of great pics of him. If you get a chance to come see him PLEASE do so. We may never have another chance to see this great bird.

  • Jpc6759

    Just saw a snowy owl in Washington, Pa. Couldn’t get a picture of it though. It was 9:45 at night and I was on my way to work. Was on the side of the road and flew off before getting my cell phone out for a picture.

  • Saw the owl three evenings ago. Sighted in Rural Ridge, Pa 15075 in Allegheny County near the Butler county border.

    • Hi Kim, we would love to get more details on this sightings! There have been very few reports of Snowy Owls so far this winter (2012-13)

  • Holly

    Just saw one in my backyard (upper st Clair)

    • Hi Holly, Snowy Owls aren’t in PA this time of year. Perhaps it was a Barn Owl or Barred Owl?

      • weneedarevolutionnow

        I wonder now if she was correct in her sighting???

  • Jennifer

    HI, I just stumbled upon your page. I wasnt aware that this was a “thing” until I read something in the paper here in Lancaster, PA a few days ago. I actually have a memory of when I was in first grade. I am 29 now soo in the 90’s. I was on my way to the bathroom and looked out the window and spotted a snowy owl perched on a railing. I called for a teacher and It ended being in the paper and I actually have the original photo of the little guy. Its been of those things that I’ve talked about with friends and family over dinner or random conversation for years now and its interesting to know that there were more!

  • Wolfy Ghalkhani

    Love birds, and especially owls.

  • Magz

    Saw one in Tioga county 2/2013.

  • august

    Saw one tonight on 401 headed toward Elverson Pa,