Owl Be Seeing You in All the Unfamiliar Places

While not quite at Nature Boardwalk, there have been reports of snowy owls at Montrose Harbor, just a few miles north of Lincoln Park Zoo.

Snowy owl at Montrose Harbor

A snowy owl swoops down onto a boat dock at Montrose Harbor.

I recently took a quick trip up there on a lunch break to try my luck. Sure enough, I saw my first wild snowy owl.

Spotting a snowy owl in the city is a rather rare event. Over the last few weeks, though, sightings of these beautiful flying predators have been increasing in eastern North America. Three to four owls have been seen around Montrose Harbor.

Every once in a while this species has an irruption year. Irruptions are similar to migrations but unpredictable in nature. They can be caused by a lack of food or extreme weather patterns in the species’ normal wintering range.

Snowy owl at Montrose Harbor

Three or four snowy owls have recently been sighted at Montrose Harbor.

If you have never seen snowy owls in the wild, pay a visit to Montrose Harbor and scan the boat docks. You just might see one of these magnificent birds. If you strike out, you’re not too far from the zoo, where you can see two of them at Regenstein Birds of Prey Exhibit.

Mason Fidino

Mason Fidino is coordinator of wildlife management for Lincoln Park Zoo's Urban Wildlife Institute.

  Follow the Urban Wildlife Institute on Twitter.


Welcome back to Montrose!

A couple years ago there were several snowy owls at the Montrose beach house, just a bit north of the harbor. I took quite a few photos as did many other much more serious bird watchers than I. That year I recall there were sightings at several other lakefront locations to the south in the city. I have a brother who lives up in northern MN and a pretty serious birder who confirmed that year was one where there was a crash in the food supply driving these beautiful birds further south than they usually go this time of year. The internet indicates that snowy owls can live @ 10 years in the wild. It would be interesting to know if the ones there this year are any repeat visitors to the Windy City!

Having experienced seeing these wonderful raptors in the city in the past, I strongly encourage anyone who hasn't before that a trip to Montrose to possible see them again here is WELL worth it!

Re: Welcome back to Montrose!

Thanks for sharing your experience Mary--that's some interesting added background! We agree in encouraging everyone to head up and see the snowy owls.

I wish I could see them in

I wish I could see them in person too.

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