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.
2/22- reported to listserv by John Fedak near New Bethlehem. Not refound the following day.
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.
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.
2/23/2012 – A Snowy Owl was apparently photographed near mile marker 113 along Interstate 80 in Clearfield 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
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.
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.
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.
2/28/2012 – possible Snowy Owl a little south of Bath. No further details.
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 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.
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.