Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Birdwatchers flock to glimpse rare snowy owl in US capital

The white dome of the US Capitol shone through the night, illuminating a small group that was hidden at the bottom of the hill, braced tightly against the freezing cold and carrying long-lensed binoculars and cameras.

While the Motley Fool crew weren’t there to photograph Washington’s famous monuments, they had set their sights on a rare creature flying through the Arctic: a snowy owl.

“He’s there!” shouted one of the birdwatchers.

The crowd changed positions to get better angles.

“It’s amazing,” said an excited Melaya Rose, 41. “I’ve been a bird for a long time, and this is my first time seeing a snowy owl.”

Birdwatching, or birding, as it is also known, is a popular pastime in the United States, with hobbyists usually hiking through forests or camping in rural areas to see different species of birds.

So the appearance of the majestic owl a week ago in the city, far further south than its usual habitat, has proved to be a magnet.

“You can see the Capitol,” said Rose, clad in a big winter coat and accompanied by her companion. “It is arresting wildness, in contrast with the city – but especially D.C. where it is… monumental and iconic.

The couple, who hired a babysitter for the occasion, took a good look at the rare bird, allowing them to mark “snowy owl” from their “life list” every bird they’ve seen. is a list of.

Like others who stare at young female owls, recognizable by their brown and white plumage, Rose was alerted to its arrival by the ebird, which is especially used by birdwatchers to signal interesting discoveries. The go-to network, which last year garnered 200 million observations by 290,000 enthusiasts worldwide.

Users found Snowy Owl near Union Station, a bustling transportation hub just down the road from the Capitol, where a line of taxis circled a grassy park, surrounded by walkways and homeless people. Dotted with tents set up by.

In the center of the park, over a marble fountain, a pair of yellow eyes set out in search of an evening snack, possibly one of the capital’s countless rats.

An ‘Arctic Visitor’

A recent visitor was Switzerland’s ambassador to the United States and Jacques Pitelaud, a passionate bird watcher.

“The snowy owl has been on my list for a long time,” Pitelaud told AFP, “but to see it in the middle of Washington, DC is really extraordinary”

“She really was a Union Station superstar!” she added.

With broad white plumage, these birds are “like a creature from another world,” explained Kevin McGowan, a professor in Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology.

Snowy owls live a good part of the year near the Arctic Circle, but migrate south for most of the winter, usually stopping near the US border with Canada.

McGowan said that traveling so far south to Washington is “like a polar bear coming to your neighborhood”.

“Snowy owls are such a charismatic bird,” said Scott Weidensaul, co-leader of Project Snowstorm, a group that researches and tracks snowy owls.

“And especially for birdwatchers in the Washington, D.C., area where seeing one down is an unusual occurrence. You know, it’s a big deal.”

In a black down jacket, Edward Eder was setting up his camera for the second night in a row. It is equipped with an ultra-long lens to get a closer look at the bird.

“Many people have taken or become more enthusiastic birders during the pandemic,” the 71-year-old retiree explained, easily attributing the trend to the ability to social distance.

Pointing the way to their parents, a small group of children attempt to catch a glimpse of the bird, which some also recognize as a relative of Hedwig, Harry Potter’s snowy owl companion in the cult book and film series. can.

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This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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