2011-12-08 / News

Three snowy owl sightings on Conanicut Island

BY CHRIS POWELL


There have been three sightings of snowy owls on Conanicut Island recently. The owls – which migrate to New England every four years or so – were seen at the Newport Pell Bridge toll plaza and at Beavertail State Park. 
PHOTO BY CHRIS POWELL There have been three sightings of snowy owls on Conanicut Island recently. The owls – which migrate to New England every four years or so – were seen at the Newport Pell Bridge toll plaza and at Beavertail State Park. PHOTO BY CHRIS POWELL Approximately every four years snowy owls appear on Conanicut Island and in other areas around New England. It is believed that these irruptions, as they are called, occur when Arctic lemming populations are low, and weather patterns for migration south are favorable. Lemmings are a small rodent, similar to a vole, and is the owl’s favorite prey.

The snowy owl is North America’s heaviest owl. Adult males are almost pure white and smaller than females, which are white with brown speckling on the body. Unlike most owls that hunt only at night, snowy owls are diurnal predators, hunting both day and night.

In the recent past there have been three sightings of snowy owls on Conanicut Island, and another in Middletown. On Nov. 22 a firstyear female was sighted near the Newport Pell Bridge toll plaza. On the same day, another snowy owl was seen at the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge. On Nov. 26 an adult male was seen on the Newport Pell Bridge and another was spotted in Beavertail State Park.

It is likely that they will be with us for a while, so bird enthusiasts should keep their eyes peeled.

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