Rare Appearance By Snowy Owl A Hoot For Birdwatchers

The male Snowy Owl is typically "snow-white." Chris Fox, Batesville, snapped this picture and believes this may be a young female.
The male Snowy Owl is typically “snow-white.” Chris Fox, Batesville, snapped this picture of the owl in Decatur County and said it is most likely a female.

Area birdwatchers are flocking to get a glimpse of a rare visitor to Decatur County.

The Snowy Owl, the official bird of the Canadian province of Quebec, was spotted in a field on Frontage Road near the Interstate 74 overpass in Greensburg. The owl has since remained in the field as some residents stop along the roadside to catch a view.

The owls breed in the Arctic and typically migrate south in the winter, however, not usually as far south as southeastern Indiana. Snowy Owls differ from others commonly seen in the area. They are much larger, ranging in size from 20 to 28 inches. Their wingspan is between 4-5 feet.

Chris Fox, Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation District coordinator and a birdwatcher himself, said he first spotted the bird on Monday Jan. 6. He indicated that it was the first Snowy Owl he has witnessed in the region.

“Somebody said it was the first one they’ve seen in Decatur County in 60 years. I haven’t been able to look up the historical records, but definitely not something we normally see in this part of the state,” Fox declared.

Most owls sleep during the day and hunt at night, but the Snowy Owl is active during daylight hours. Unlike other owls, the bird is more likely to nest on the ground rather than in a tree. Fox attributes that to the lack of trees in its native tundra environment and the size of the bird.

“The nice thing is for birdwatchers, there are one that is fairly easy to see once you find an area its been spending time in,” Fox said.