Two snowy owls have been confirmed on the San Juan Islands by local bird experts. And one was caught by a camera lens.
It was Saturday afternoon and Steve Anderson was bored with just hanging out at his house. So he grabbed his camera and headed to South Beach in the San Juan Island National Historical Park. When he parked near Redoubt Road he spotted an owl perched on a fence post. It was white, and its body was practically covered with black streaks.
It wasn’t until he got home and researched the bird he had photographed that Anderson realized he had seen a juvenile snowy owl on San Juan Island — a raptor that rarely stops on the islands.
John Jensen a master birder, confirmed the bird in the photo as a snowy owl.
“I was shocked,” said Anderson, who has been photographing wildlife for the last five years. “Everyone I’ve shown the picture to is really surprised … it was a treat.”
Anderson’s photos were taken Dec. 3, around the time when sightings of snowy white owls were coming in from across the country in what is called an irruption, not to be confused with an eruption. An irruption refers to an abnormally large number of birds migrating into an area.
Barbara Jensen President of the San Juan Audobon Society recently confirmed a separate juvenile snowy owl sighting on Lopez that also occurred in early December.
According to Jensen, one or two snowy owls usually show up on San Juan in November during an irruption year.
“But they don’t stay for long,” Jensen said.
(Read more about snowies and why they aren’t found on the islands in “Snowy owls on the San Juan Islands?” at www.sanjuanjournal.com).