Reader photos: snowy owl in NYC; flying sparrow and winter landscape in Idaho

Here are three lovely photos sent in by readers. The first is by Robert, who sent a photo of a snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus) along with a note:

This photo, at great distance, was taken at Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett [a park that was formerly an airport] by NY’s Jamaica Bay. That’s One World Trade Center rising in the distance, maybe 10 miles away.

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From reader Stephen Barnard, we get a song sparrow (Melospiza melodia) on the wing, and a beautiful winter landscape (click all photos to enlarge):

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  1. Jim Knight
    Posted December 9, 2013 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Thanks for reminding me of one of the reasons that I live in the South. For all of its political and social drawbacks (too numerous to mention!) the weather is usually a LOT better (read “warmer”) than most other places in the US…

  2. Stephen Barnard
    Posted December 9, 2013 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    I love that Snowy Owl shot. Here are a couple of great ones from Facebook (not mine, but wish they were):

  3. Hempenstein
    Posted December 9, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Wow to that owl, just wow!

  4. Posted December 9, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    One of the joys of growing up in NYC was having access to Jamaica Bay (accessible by public transit). Ruffle Bar is a designated bird sanctuary near to Floyd Bennet Field (a former naval air station). And yes, Manhattan skyscrapers can be seen off in the distance.

  5. Taskin
    Posted December 9, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    I’m so glad that you took the time to photograph a sparrow. Little brown birds are easily overlooked, but they have their charms. Fabulous that you caught it in flight!
    The owl is great too. A snowy owl is the only owl I have seen in the wild, it was quite a thrill. (It would have been even better if I hadn’t been driving at the time.)

  6. Posted December 10, 2013 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    what a lucky shot of the snowy owl! by coincidence, I just posted about Floyd Bennet Field’s Natural Area and that it’d be nice if it was an official naturist-friendly park. That is if it remains a park at all. There are plans to build a massive gas pipeline on its territory.

  7. Erik
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Would like to repost and credit the Snowy Owl picture. Does Robert have it online elsewhere?

  8. Posted December 10, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Permalink
    According to this video interview, there’s a recent and puzzling influx of snowy owls in parts of Canada. This birder thinks this could be a cyclical southerly movement of snowy owls from the Arctic due to a die-off lemmings (a food source for the snowy owl).

    • Diane G.
      Posted December 10, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      There is a huge irruption of Snowies this year. One made it to North Carolina.

      • Stephen Barnard
        Posted December 10, 2013 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

        I’d love to see one. The most spectacular BIFs I can recall are Snowy Owls.

        North Carolina, though? That’s odd.

        • Diane G.
          Posted December 10, 2013 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

          It would sure look more at home in your neck o’ the woods!

          So far this year the irruption’s been largely in the NE; but in previous years there’s been some infiltration in the NW as well. Keep your eyes peeled. 😉 The joke with birders is that about 90% of the “Snowy Owls” you think you see turn out to be white plastic bags. I can only hope that’s less true in Idaho.

          • jesse
            Posted December 11, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

            Diane, that is funny about the bags… I’ll have to remember that one : )
            I wonder if you ever saw the photos of the snowy/peregrine confrontation taken by a downtown Chicago birder a couple yrs. ago.
            The last picture in the series is priceless.

            • Diane G.
              Posted December 12, 2013 at 12:34 am | Permalink

              Those shots are amazing! What a thing to witness.

              I look at Snowies with mixed emotions though, these days; they are only here due to significant duress on their normal wintering grounds. They tend to be in bad condition when they arrive, and many will not survive; most of the carcasses that are examined show the owls died of starvation.

              The peregrine/owl encounter is a stark example of one reason why; the rodent, etc., populations of our environs in winter are probably just adequate to support our local predators…

        • jesse
          Posted December 11, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

          Stephen I just want to compliment you on the sparrow photo.

          • Stephen Barnard
            Posted December 11, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

            It was a lucky shot. I have no idea why the focus was as close as it was.

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