Adirondack Snowy Owl Dies

This young snowy owl photographed this month in Keene by Larry Master was hit by a car. Courtesy of

A sad postscript to all of the excitement about snowy owl sightings this season: the young owl that posed so picturesquely in a field north of the High Peaks has died.

Larry Master, a photographer and zoologist based in Lake Placid, took this photograph of the owl perched on a collapsing barn in a clearing between Keene and Keene Valley around December 5.

A state trooper reported to the Yahoo northern New York birds discussion list that the bird was hit by a car near Marcy Field just before dark on December 6. The driver took it to Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Rehabilitation Center, in Wilmington, where it died a few days later. Rehabilitator Wendy Hall reported that the bird was probably not yet a year old and was suffering from a broken tibia and dehydration.

“We put it on I.V. fluids immediately, but it was just in wretched shape,” she said. “This was not a healthy snowy. . . . There was no muscle tone.”

Many of the Arctic wanderers are hungry, so birders are asked to keep their distance to avoid forcing the owls to expend energy. Hall heard that people were crowding this bird, getting as close as ten feet, which to her indicated that the creature probably had little strength to fly.

A massive white-owl foray into the contiguous United States is still providing bird-watchers an exciting opportunity to view an animal that’s rarely seen here. It seems like new birds pop up weekly in North Country fields. On December 19, a snowy owl was spotted northwest of the intersection of Cross, Clark and Whallon’s Bay Road, between Whallonsburg and Essex. Some birder friends saw snowys last week near the airport and near the highway department in Malone. Check the ebird map, or join the Yahoo Northern New York Birds discussion group for the most up-to-date information on owls and other birds that cause a flutter.

This post has been corrected to clarify the location of Cross, Clark and Whallons’s Bay Road.

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