Posted by: merlyn9 | 8 December, 2008

Snowy Owl Habitation in DeKalb –updated–

 Sometimes folks move into a neighborhood and little notice is given.   Yet at others a large welcoming party comes out.  This sighting of a Snowy Owl in DeKalb, Illinois is just one of the later cases.  Since at least 29Nov08 on IBET (IL Birders Exchanging Thoughts), a Yahoo Group, there have been several folks posting their Snowy Owl sighting experiences right in DeKalb.  Most folks had been sighting from 9AM on in the morning. Saturday morning light was a bust – for Photography, too dark and dull, cold and blowing snow.  Sunday morning was suppose to be sunny!  Given that I was planning my arrival shortly after 8AM to scope out the area better (I was a bit familiar with this area since we have used both the Peace Rd. and Anne Glidden Rd. entrances to I-88 )  So I began scoping this area out better while I awaited Diane’s arrival.  It was 1˚F outside along these fields!   Let’s face it, it is so much better to have at least one other spotter in the moving vehicle with you as the driver traverses he roads and traffic.  The accident this morning at the corner of Gurler Rd. and Rt 23 (S. 4th St.) is a good example.  There is a Stop sign for Gurler traffic at that corner Not Rt 23, a 50mph road at that point.  I had just been through this intersection less than 10-minutes before, now with Diane to leave her car to join me, there was a pickup w/trailer which was plowed into by a small car on Rt 23…

Red Shoulder Hawk???   I for one love having a navigator and extra pair of eyes in the front seat with me.  

And it was these same extra eyes that shortly would yell out  “Big Bird in Tree… Big Bird”  We were Southbound on Rt 23 just past 88 where there are some houses on the West side of the road.   After some looking and pointing I finally saw the Hawk up in a tree off past the garage area…  This may have been the same Hawk Urs Geiser had seen later on  Crego Rd.

DeKalb Snowy Owl 01

DeKalb Snowy Owl 01

We headed out to Crego Rd. ourself at this point.  There seemed to have been a few vehicles paused along the road South of Gurler Rd.  We headed that way to check out the area.  Sure enough, the two cars in the area were watching the Snowy Owl off about 200ft from the road in the cut corn field.  We pulled around and joined the caravan of cars now on the side of the road.  Finding a spot to park, we joined in taking our own photos. By now it had warmed up a bit to a comfortable  4˚F outside…  So gloves might be needed!  I fired off a few frames, and began to turn to grab something from the truck and I hear “There he Goes…” from someplace off to my right. as the number of roadside cars had grown.  I took two steps back to the camera and located the Owl in flight, quickly focused and shot off a few more frames.  

DeKalb Snowy Owl 02

DeKalb Snowy Owl 02

I totally missed any facial or front-on in-flight shots, but I did get a few none-the-less.  

John Heneghan Was fortunate to have captured a semi-front/side image as the Owl launched itself into flight and headed off about 300 feet further away and into the next field patch.  This pretty much took took the owl out of reasonable photographic range.

It was interesting too that this Owl did not seemed bothered by all the noise, etc. coming from behind him.  The entire time we viewed, several hundren yards beyond the owl, in the next fiekd East the farmer was running back and forth in his combine harvesting his corn.  One the good side, I surmise is that all the activities by the farmer in that field was rousing  potential little critters towards the Owl.  This particular Owl did not seem to be lacking for food.

Weather forecast had been showing Thursday to be a sunny day, but that’s not the case right now.  I’ll keep an eye out on the weather and watch for the next bright morning.  Hoping this Owl is still out there 

Dekalb Owl Sighting Area Overlay

Dekalb Owl Sighting Area Overlay


So I took both the arial view and street views from and overlayed them here, since the arial view gives a better layout of what the land area looks like, but does not show all the street info.

As shown on the map at location (A, this was our initial sighting, and then flew off and landed again at location (B.

10Dec08  –<update>–
 Another IBET’er was out to the same area this morning… Having Breakfast!!!
in Ari Shavit’s own words:  “The snowy owl was having breakfast this morning. I used a scope and camera to take a short video.”  I thought this was so cool!  The sound even has that faint resemblance of those old real-to-real movies we used to watch in school… before the invention of video tapes!  Yea, I’m dating myself on this one.  
Find that video here:    Snowy Owl Video  
Thanks So much Ari for putting this up and sharing it with us!


“Dam-it  Jim… I’m a Photographer of Birds… not a Birder who Photographers”  

So this does not mean I don’t know anything about the birds I am photographing.  I don’t know about all the birds I see in the areas I am photographing, or even around my local community.  But I do make an effort to find out about those birds I am capturing… even if it is after I’ve shot them.




  1. Nice writing. You are on my RSS reader now so I can read more from you down the road.

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