It’s the rarest of feathered visitors to the Outer Banks, the Ocracoke Observer’s Peter Vankevich wrote a few years ago, and for a second straight January another one has returned. A snowy owl, far out if its normal northern range, was spotted this morning in Kitty Hawk.
Connie Marcy was staying at her family’s house, “McGee’s Sea Dream” at mile post 4 on the Beach Road when her niece Lexy’s 5-year-old son spotted the snowy owl sitting on the equipment rack on their next door neighbor’s pickup truck.
“I took one picture from the middle deck of the house and Lexy took the other one from her car window,” Marcy said. “They were almost late to school because of it! We felt really blessed to see it!”
Snowy owls generally live in the far north near the North Pole, and winter in southern Canada and the northern United States. About every four years they travel south well outside their normal range in a phenomena called “irruption,” the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says.
For reasons not understood, snowy owls have been “irrupting” more often in recent years. In fact, a few spent several winters on Ocracoke Island and were spotted around Cape Hatteras between 2014 and 2017, with their time here well documented by the the Ocracoke Observer.
Then last year, there were multiple well documented sightings from Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge to Ocracoke to Cape Lookout National Seashore well into March.
Since their normal range is far north and there are far fewer people living nearby, the snowy owl isn’t really used to seeing us. But humans flock for a rare sighting of the beautiful white bird when one is around. We, however, need to give the owl distance and respect.
But with this latest sighting, we expect there will likely be more cool photos and videos in the coming weeks.
To learn more about snowy owls, click here.