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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19 Comments

  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.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruffle_Bar

  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

    http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Technology/ID/2422365315/
    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.
            http://www.nabirding.com/2012/02/16/when-a-snowy-met-the-locals/

            • 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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