The Snowy Owl extravaganza continues at Montrose. Two birds were seen there over the weekend of December 10-11. I saw and photographed the bird at right on Sunday, December 11. Based on the heavy barring and complete tail bands I think this individual is a female. I’ve been birding for 34 years and this is one of the best years I can remember for Snowy Owls. To date, about 8 different Snowies have been seen at Montrose this fall and winter. The last major invasion of Snowy Owls into Illinois occurred in 1996-97.
An interesting little tidbit about Snowy Owl taxonomy. For a long time the scientific name of Snowy Owl was Nyctea scandiaca. The generic name was changed recently to Bubo, which is the “eagle owl” genus and includes our Great Horned Owl. The thinking is that Snowy Owls are really derived eagle owls, adapted for life on the tundra.