FREEDOM – It’s a scene that could be right out of the Arctic.
But many snowy owls are spending these winter days near Freedom in Outagamie County.
Snowy owl sightings have been on the rise across the U.S., and even here in Northeast Wisconsin.
We spotted at least a half-dozen of the big birds while covering the story.
Naturalists say we are in the midst of an owl invasion.
With piercing eyes, and long white feathers, snowy owls have been spotted near Freedom.
“It seems like just about everyday we see him sitting up on that silo,” said Curt Killsdonk, Freedom.
Curt Killsdonk says he’s seen more owls this year, and people too.
“We got plenty of visitors that drive by on the roads and just stop, they even set out their tripod, they got their camera,” said Killsdonk.
Wildlife photographer Scott Denny has been capturing owly images for years.
“Part of the fun for me is not just seeing the bird, and photographing it. But also trying to get that quote, unquote keeper shot. That is the one that really means a lot to you,” said Scott Denny, wildlife photographer.
Mike Reed is the director at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary. He says many of the snowy owls in the area are juveniles, heading south, looking for food, and territory.
“This is a really big invasion year. All over the eastern U.S. of snowy owls. They’re showing up two to three times the number that we usually see them. The latest estimate is that there’s about 271 snowy owls now in Wisconsin,” said Reed.
If you want to see these big birds, experts say you need to know where to look. Snowy owls like open spaces, tops of barns, silos, even power poles.
“They’re really easy to miss, and toward evening they start moving in toward the farms, really to feed on the mice and rats that gather around the farms,” said Reed.
From the professionals, to those just sharing the landscape, snowy owls have found a place to call a winter home.
“Go to these places where they’re located, and take a shot with your camera,” said Denny.
“It’s kind of interesting so see that. Something different,” said Killsdonk.
Naturalists say the owls should be returning to nesting grounds in the Arctic Circle in a few weeks.