Rare southern sighting of snowy owl has Hatteras buzzing

By on December 12, 2013


A snowy owl with a rare backdrop. (Jay Ross)

Hatteras Island has become one of the locations being included in what is being called an “eruption” of snowy owls.

The species is usually found above the Artic Circle and sometimes ventures lower into the far north states. But this year reports of sightings are coming  from a number of states along the Eastern Seaboard, with North Carolina being the  most southern. Most of the reported sightings are of immature birds.

Thanksgiving week, a buzz began among wildlife photographers and birders that a snowy was making itself comfortable at Cape Point. The news immediately began to draw visitors from across the state and beyond.  And there have been reported sightings in Wake and Hyde counties.

Sightings are not unusual in the northern United States or even as far south as Kansas in the central region, but the number of birds seen and the expanded locations this year has ornithologists scratching their heads as they try to determine what caused it. There even have been sightings in Bermuda, which sits 600 miles off the coast and has a subtropical climate.

Professional photographers who sell their work to such publications as National Geographic have been lining up with tripods as they try to get “the money shot” — a great picture of the bird with the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in the background.

The closure of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge has done little to dampen the enthusiasm. Online birding and photography chat rooms are full of postings with information about the ferries and recommendations about where to stay on Hatteras Island.

Drastic weather changes don’t seem to be bothering the owl that was reported being seen on Saturday, Dec. 7.

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Sandy Semans

December 20, 2013 6:11 pm

Today, Dec. 20, the Snowy Owl was spotted back in the dunes at Cape Point – probably trying to stay cool because they don’t like warm weather. Others are reporting seeing a Snowy Owl in the Avon area.

The crusher

December 16, 2013 2:57 pm

Pretty bird……
Close the beaches and I want a 1,000 yard buffer ASAP!!!!

Frank Moore

December 15, 2013 7:33 am

Charlie good question they would probably want an entire beach shut down but the snowy owl would only “burp”. =)


December 14, 2013 4:17 am

What would selc, defenders, etc do if a snowy owl ate a piping plover?


December 13, 2013 11:34 am

Thank GOD for the Snowy Owl showing up in Hatteras! At least he, or she, is helping to generate some awareness and revenue to that area! I hope he sticks around for a long time to bring lots of photographers from all over the world come to check it out!


December 13, 2013 11:27 am

Rare sighting for the area =/= rare or endangered bird.


December 13, 2013 7:28 am

Oh no, not another endangered bird to remove us from our historical homes and livelyhoods.


December 12, 2013 11:54 pm

Ironic how the nature lovers will burn just about any amount of fossil fuel to get a look at a bird that’s in a different place than the last time they saw it. I am going to celebrate nature by leaving it alone and staying home :)

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