Snowy Owl in Providence, Rhode Island
© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved. snowyowl-providence24

Snowy Owl in Providence, Rhode Island

Early in December, I was extremely lucky to find a Snowy Owl here in Providence. Amazingly, I seemed to be the only person aware of the owl at the time, so I visited as often as possible to photograph and observe its behavior. I’m grateful for the rare opportunities to be alone with this wild arctic raptor so close to my home.

Please understand that revealing the exact location would be detrimental to the visiting owl. I’ve witnessed it being chased away by unleashed dogs, duck hunters, angry seagulls, screaming peregrine falcons, and dive-bombing crows (as you will see below). All snowy owls in the U.S. have made a long journey from the arctic in search of food — any additional stress can threaten their survival. I made sure to always keep a respectable distance with a powerful 500mm zoom lens.

© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.

Currently, an unexpected irruption of snowy owls into the U.S. appears to be one of the largest on record. Here are some links to more information as to why this is happening:
» Audubon Magazine: Notes from a Snowy Owl Invasion
» Audubon Magazine: Snowy Owls: Bird Expert Kenn Kaufman Answers 12 Questions
» American Birding Association: 2013 Snowy Owl Invasion: It’s getting crazier by the minute
» Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Video: Snowy Owl Invasion (3:30 min)
» PBS: Video: Magic of the Snowy Owl (55 min)

© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.
© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.

Migrating snowy owls prey on ducks and other shorebirds, so the owl was often resting peacefully on a dock or barge, watching the passing ducks:

© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.
© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.

Here the owl coughed up a pellet by its feet:

© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.

Here it has its eyes fixed on a Common Goldeneye:

© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.

On this day, the owl posed on the rocks with its sharp talons fully visible:

© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.
© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.

As with all owls, this snowy’s camouflage is quite impressive:

© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.

On this evening, the sun set behind the sleepy owl:

© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.
© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.

This gloomy morning, the owl was flying away with prey in its talons — I’m not sure what it caught:

© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.

On this cold day, the owl was spotted by a pair of crows who were not happy to see it. The crows dove at it incessantly until it flew away:

© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.
© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.
© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.
© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.
© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.

Here we see an even more elusive creature… the Snowy Meowl ;)

© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.

On Christmas day, the owl was perched high on a telephone pole and felt very safe so I was able to approach slowly and hide behind shrubs to get these close-ups. Blood on its talons was a good indication that it had eaten recently:

© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.
© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.

Although close-ups are beautiful, some of my favorite photos show the owl included as part of the landscape:

© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.
© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.
© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.
© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.

Lastly, I want to mention that my friends at Born To Be Wild Nature Center in Bradford are currently caring for two injured snowy owls found in Rhode Island. If you love snowies and would like to aid in their rehabilitation and release, please consider a donation to BTBW via their website: hawkri.org

© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.

20 Comments

  1. Posted 01.07.14 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Such a beautiful photographic commentary on a remarkably rare visitor to Providence. I believe you were chosen by these magnificent creatures to help tell their story. Well done, Peter!

  2. Posted 01.08.14 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    I continue to be enthralled by your work, Peter. I’m so glad I clicked on your site this morning to discover this fantastic series about “your” snowy. I’m forever amazed at how you have chosen (or, like the commenter above, “been chosen”) to do this work, to show to the rest of us the magnificent raptors in our own urban locale. Thanks so much!!

  3. Lauri Lee
    Posted 01.08.14 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Peter,
    These are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing. And happy new year!

  4. Tina Scheibenpflug
    Posted 01.08.14 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful!!!

  5. Lisa Green
    Posted 01.08.14 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    This series is unbelievable! Truly beautiful photos by a talented photographer!!

  6. Clay Commons
    Posted 01.08.14 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Great shots, as ever, Peter. Thank you!
    We saw a Snowy Owl in the swamp approaching Point Judith on Saturday morning, but I’m not as quick on the shutter as your are, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

  7. Mark Pollock
    Posted 01.08.14 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Magnificent work Peter, very envious of the pictures and sightings, but not of the cold weather that’s likely to follow the Snowy Owl.

  8. Susan Anderson
    Posted 01.08.14 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Oh, Peter, these photos are beautiful! All your hard work and diligence has really paid off. :-)
    Thank you for sharing your remarkable gift with all of us.
    Blessings,
    Susan

  9. Jane Turcotte
    Posted 01.08.14 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Just spectacular photos. I agree with Vivian, the work you do is very special!

  10. Lynn Borden
    Posted 01.08.14 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    WICKED!! I should of known you would see them !

  11. Kelley Dion
    Posted 01.08.14 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    I am so fascinated with your photos. I love owls , they amaze me. Thank you for the beautiful pics.

  12. Dorothy
    Posted 01.08.14 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    Hi Peter. Thank you for showing me these beautiful bird pictures. You are a perfectionist with your photos. They are just beautiful. I still watch the little birds every day from my window and love every minute of it.

  13. Rebecca Ginsburg
    Posted 01.08.14 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    Gorgeous, moving pictures of an amazing raptor! Also of the Snowy Meowl. ;)

  14. Posted 01.09.14 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Peter what a treat to see your thoughtful, beautiful, and respectful photos and experience with a beautiful owl- really enjoyed this!

  15. Alice Slotsky
    Posted 01.09.14 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Peter, Thanks so much for these special pictures. I completely concur with all the complimentary comments above and can’t say them better. Who else but you could have captured so intimately the daily life of this beautiful bird?!

  16. Kathleen
    Posted 01.10.14 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful images, especially the one staring down at you through the slats of the telephone pole. Just love those luminous yellow eyes. Also glad to see it is hunting successfully! And the image of it sitting on the dock with ducks floating by – oh my! I wonder if they even know what a Snowy Owl is.

  17. Posted 01.15.14 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    What great shots! How lucky we are to have this visitor.

  18. Pam
    Posted 03.03.14 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing these gorgeous photos. I really appreciate the time and effort you took to get these photos and the cold weather you had to endure. I’m sure you feel that it was well worth it in the end with these magnificent photos. Your work is truly amazing!

    • Peter Green
      Posted 03.03.14 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Thank you all for taking the time to read my blog and leave comments, I sincerely appreciate it!

  19. Drew C
    Posted 03.24.15 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Peter, Looks like from the shape of the wing of the prey it might of been a sea gull? Amazing pictures!

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