Southern Brooklyn

Amazing Winged Wonder Spotted Near The Narrows

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No, it's not "Hedwig," Harry Potter's pet owl, but it sure does bear a strong resemblance

Sheepshead Bites reader Stuart sent us these incredible photographs, along with the email below, and… what else is there to say but “WOW!”

These were taken by a friend of mine, who also is an avid fisherman in the area. He was fishing just next to Hoffman Island, which is one of the two islands, just south of the Verranzano [sic] Bridge at the entrance of New York Harbor… He had his camera with him and was most fortunate to get these magnificent pictures of what I believe to be a Snowy Owl.

According to Wikipedia, the winged wonder does appear to be the Snowy Owl, though why Mr. Owl is hangin’ loose in NYC’s unusually clement climes is anyone’s guess. According to the entry:

Snowy Owls nest in the Arctic tundra of the northernmost stretches of Alaska, Canada and Eurasia. They winter south through Canada and northern Eurasia, with irruptions occurring further south in some years. Snowy Owls are attracted to open areas like coastal dunes and prairies that appear somewhat similar to tundra. They have been reported as far south as Texas, Georgia, the American Gulf states, southern Russia, northern China, and even the Caribbean. Between 1967 and 1975, Snowy Owls bred on the remote island of Fetlar in the Shetland Isles north of Scotland, UK. Females summered as recently as 1993, but their status in the British Isles is now that of a rare winter visitor to Shetland, the Outer Hebrides and the Cairngorms. In January 2009, a Snowy Owl appeared in Spring Hill, Tennessee, the first reported sighting in the state since 1987.


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30 COMMENTS

  1. clearly the real harry potter was born somewhere in Brooklyn. secondly, my guess someone had it as a pet and it got away.

  2. […] comments yetShareTweetThe big Snowy Owl irruption this year has finally reached New York City with the sighting of a single bird on Hoffman Island.  When will one show up in Queens already? Tags: Asides • Have you seen the cool 10,000 Birds […]

  3. This is actually turning out to be a great year so far for Snowy Owls showing up across the United States, though this is the first in New York City this year.  They irrupt from their far northern nesting locales when population pressures and low prey abundance force them to move.  Last winter was lousy for snowies and it looks like this winter is going to make up for it.

  4. Snowy’s are a somewhat common occurance in our area.  As Corey stated, this is the first one this year in NYC, but there was one recently over at the Meadowlands… hopefully one (maybe this one) will come over to Staten Island sooner than later

  5. I just saw this bird being chased by 4 or 5 black birds. It was on a fire escape and took flight with them squawking behind. Don’t know if it was territorial or prey.

  6. I hit and killed a snowy owl in Casey County, Kentucky in 2003. It was late at night and it flew into my windshield. It was stunning beautiful and I will go to my grave regretting that I was the cause of it death.

  7. I’ve never seen a bird like this :-O … O.M.G’ness it’s so, so beautiful !!!  Great job on the picture taking !!  Thank you for posting 🙂

  8. Nice, and it’s on Hoffman’s Island, it won’t be ‘hassled’.  For what it’s worth, this is shaping up to be an ‘irruption’ year – where a good number of Snowy’s have already shown up and are ‘wintering’ in the Tri-State as well as the Midwest (all near the Great Lakes).  There are currently 2 birds in CT, and one in NJ (Merril Creek Reservoir).

    If you do come across ANY owl (Short Ears, Long Ears, Saw Whet, etc) this time of the year, please respect their space.  They are wintering here amongst us in an environment with not much in the way of food.  To harass them (is against the law) but most importantly causes them to move to another area (for safety), and then having to fight for whatever prey is about.

    Beautiful pictures.  

  9. A Snowy Owl in the New York Bight is not terribly unusual in winter (or even late fall). A few of them head south (usually immatures) when food gets scarce up north. They have been doing this before there were people in New York City, so it is not a strange phenomenon. Every winter one or two are seen at Jamaica Bay NWR and Sandy Hook, even on the beach at Breezy Point.  
    Tom Lake, NYSDEC

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