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  • Snowy Owl Sighted at Conimicut Point

    [CREDIT: Lincoln Smith] A snowy owl sighted Dec. 29 on Conimicut Point.

    [CREDIT: Lincoln Smith] A snowy owl sighted Dec. 29 on Conimicut Point.

    [CREDIT: Lincoln Smith] A snowy owl sighted Dec. 29 on Conimicut Point.

    [CREDIT: Lincoln Smith] A snowy owl sighted Dec. 29 on Conimicut Point.

    WARWICK, RI — Snowy owls are the largest North American owls, among the largest owls in the world, according to the Mass Audubon Society, often weathering temperatures of -80 degrees near the Arctic Circle during the colder months of the year, and often visit New York and New England, which is part of how local photographer Lincoln Smith happened upon one on Conimicut Point.

    The birds are 20”–28” in length, with a wing span of 54”–66”, and weigh 3.25–6.5 lbs, according to the Audubon Society. Snowy owls eat voles, lemmings, and other small rodents, as well as birds. On their summer breeding grounds, it’s daylight 24 hours a day, so snowy owls hunt in the light. During winter, they prefer to find food under cover of darkness. They hunt by hovering in the air looking for prey, or by watching for prey from a perch.

    On Friday, Smith visited Conimicut Point to watch the sunset, and found one of the visiting owls:

    “Last Friday in the late afternoon I decided to take a ride to see what sunset would look like. Because of the holidays and my birthday I hadn’t taken any sunset pictures for a while. Most of my sunset pictures are taken at Oakland Beach but, I decided to go to Conimicut Point instead.

    I parked on the right hand side of the beach. When I got there the outside temperature in my car said 18 degrees. I took my camera and then walked to the beach. I turned to the right to take a picture of the sunset. At that point the sun was fully out and it was just not the time to photograph it.

    Then I turned to my left with my wide-angle lens to take a picture of the beach and the lighthouse. At that point I noticed something on top of a rock which I thought was just another rock. I zoomed in and to my surprise it was a snowy owl. I went back to the car to get my tripod so my camera would be on something sturdy. The tripod was very cold because it had been in the trunk of the car. I was all bundled up but, with the wind blowing it was very cold.

    That didn’t stop me from photographing the snowy owl. After about an hour it flew off. I didn’t get any pictures of it in flight but, it was awesome to see it fly by me. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.”

    RIPR spoke with the RI Audubon Society about Snowy Owls, noting a lot of sightings of the owls this year.

    snowy-owl-quick-guide