Snowy Owls

Looking like something out of Harry Potter a fellow Photo and Cinema grad from The Ohio State University caught this owl hanging out in the Marietta area. For Exploring Ohio Magazine this is the first guest photographer post! Thank you Mike. See his bio below.

There are some unusual visitors in large numbers in Ohio this year.  In an average year 3-5 Snowy Owls can be seen in Ohio.  This year there are a dozen on the breakwater at Cleveland Lakefront by itself.  There is one in a farmers field in Holmes County that is notoriously posing for photographers.  I live in Marietta, far, far off the beaten path for such unusual visitors and yet we have one here.  There are reports of dozens, literally dozens of these owls scattered throughout the state and possibly hundreds in Michigan.

A particularly good year in the Arctic tundra for lemmings, mice, rats, ground squirrels, vole and other rodents means that a larger number of young predators, including Snowy Owls, survived and are seeking winter homes.  There is also the possibility that the ice over the Arctic Ocean has fewer gaps this year so that there is more competition for those spaces.  Whatever the case it makes for a fine year for seeing a truly unusual visitor from the frozen north.

Mike Williams has Bachelors and Masters Degrees from The Ohio State University.  He is retired from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources where he was the departmental photojournalist for over 25 years and is currently a West Virginia Master Naturalist. He has served as the President of the Friends of the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge and presents programs in Ohio and West Virginia for photo clubs, naturalist groups and libraries.

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