Snowy owl spotted in Port Townsend
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The owl with the white plumage that echoes its Arctic origins was seen for most of the day Thursday across from the fishing pier at the entrance to the Port Hudson Marina, said David Gluckman, field trip chairman of the Admiralty Audubon Society, who snapped a few photographs of the visitor.
“Numerous Port Townsendites showed up with binoculars, cameras and spotting scopes to enjoy the spectacle,” Gluckman said.
A snowy owl was seen at Point Wilson flying around the lighthouse the week before, he added.
Snowy owls — which stand more than 2 feet tall and have wingspans between 4.2 feet and 4 feet, according to National Geographic — are among the largest of owls, Gluckman said.
The snowy owl is “usually a rare visitor to the Northwest,” he said in an email.
Last year was an “irruption year” for snowy owls when unusual numbers came south for the winter.
“This is thought to be caused by a greater number of hatchlings than usual and less available food,” Gluckman said.
Snowy owls were spotted last fall at Dungeness Spit and in Jefferson County, and have been known to visit Ediz Hook and other areas of the North Olympic Peninsula.
Bob Boekelheide, former director of the Dungeness River Audubon Center in Sequim, said then that owls make the long trip from the Arctic to the warmer climes of Washington state every three to seven years.
'Harry Potter owl'
Gluckman referred to the snowy owl as “The Harry Potter Owl.” Hedwig, the fictional feathered companion of young wizard Harry Potter in the series of novels and movies, was a snowy owl.
“The year after an irruption year is often an 'echo irruption year' with lots of owls showing up but fewer than the year before,” Gluckman continued.
He said the “echo” appeared to have begun in the Puget Sound area about two weeks ago, when the owls began appearing in such diverse places as Capitol Hill in Seattle.
A dozen more were reported Wednesday at Boundary Bay south of Vancouver, B.C., Gluckman said.
National Geographic said snowy owls sometimes remain year-round in their northern breeding grounds but also are known to migrate to Canada, the northern United States, Europe and Asia.
“Few, if any, snowy owls have been seen at the Point Hudson Marina in Port Townsend,” Gluckman said.
Last modified: November 17. 2012 5:36PM