Winter birds

Reports are out that a snowy owl is being seen in the farm fields north of Shippensburg, PA, so on Thursday, January 19, my son-in-law Ed and I drove to the area and found Mud Level Road, the location where the sightings have occurred.

After a bit of searching, we came upon about ten birders parked on the side of the road, looking at something through their binoculars and spotting scopes. Sure enough – a snowy owl, sitting on the ground in the short green stems of a wheat field.

It was perhaps 60 yards away, so I had no way of getting a good photo, but here is an image from the internet, a free download from

This owl is typically found in the polar regions, but in the winter an individual sometimes comes as far south at places like PA, perhaps because of limited food supply in winter in its normal range.

As we watched this owl, thirty students and their teachers came out of the nearby one-room school and walked up the road to see the owl, too. One of the men with a spotting scope set it up and allowed each student to see the owl through the scope.

The owl turned his head from time to time, surveying the field, but in the hour we were there, he never moved from his spot on the ground.

The field also had a number of horned larks, sitting on the ground, flitting through the air, sitting on fence posts, and singing their short,tinkling musical song. Unlike the snowy owl, horned larks are common in our area every winter.

This image is by Tom Grey or Tom Grey Bird Photos.

Have you seen a snowy owl? Do you see horned larks? Post a comment if you will.

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