We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Snowy owls in Michigan

Ann Arbor, MI
Destination Expert
for Michigan, Ann Arbor
Level Contributor
2,135 posts
174 reviews
Save Topic
Snowy owls in Michigan

If you are not a birder this will seem totally goofy to you, but if you are a birder you'll get why this is a travel-related post!

Michigan is having a major snowy owl winter, with the owls being spotted all over the state. It is worth following the bird spotting chatter if you're within a couple hours of the state.

Here's an article about the owls:

freep.com/article/20120129/NEWS05/201290464/…

There are listservs that provide daily spotting updates on the owls and any other species of note if that level of detail interests you as well. For example, the one for the lower part of Michigan (with a heavy concentration of Ann Arbor and metro Detroit birders) is here:

https:/…

Husband and I have not seen a snowy owl yet, but there's still time!

MI
Destination Expert
for Ludington
Level Contributor
1,149 posts
116 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Snowy owls in Michigan

Arg. We've been on this Owl-prowl all winter, and have yet to spot one. They have been spotted all over west MI. DS has a app that updates spottings as people enter them. Hope College in Holland had one perched on a building. A grocery store here in Grand Rapids had one on its roof. There are many around the Muskegon Waste Water treatment facility (where we have been 3X's and havent seen squat). We keep looking.......

Ann Arbor, MI
Destination Expert
for Michigan, Ann Arbor
Level Contributor
2,135 posts
174 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Snowy owls in Michigan

Yep, us too. We have fewer sightings in our area, but they are coming in pretty regularly. Our neighbor had a business meeting in Muskegon earlier in the week and she went early and searched all around that treatment facility and saw nothing.

My only Michigan snowy owl was as an undergraduate--the fine feathered fellow perched on the Natural History Museum for most of a day! A well chosen building for sure.

I didn't know you were a birder doggy1! Those kinds of aps make me think I should get a smart phone.

Bay City, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Michigan
Level Contributor
5,258 posts
1,279 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Snowy owls in Michigan

You should get a smart phone, Luv2. I am surprised you already don't have one-with your camping, birding, AA, very busy pre-teen daughter, traveling life. With that said, please know I am not berating you. I DON"T have one either-

LLLLLLLLLOOOOLLLLLLLLLL! But it is crossing my mind more and more. :)

Years and years ago (I cannot even tell you when) we were camping at Hoeft State Park in Rogers City and we were walking one of the trails. And there it was in all its glory. Scared the heck right out of us. We watched it for a long time, not knowing if we'd ever see one again. We are not birders by any means, but knew enough to know what we were seeing was not going to happen often. :)

Ann Arbor, MI
Destination Expert
for Michigan, Ann Arbor
Level Contributor
2,135 posts
174 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Snowy owls in Michigan

tyme--you mentioned the reason we don't have smart phones. It is that soon-to-be 13 year old member of our household. So far we've had an easy time saying no to a smart phone for her, taking the stance that none of us need one. We don't want her running around with the internet in her pocket. I do get tempted to have one, but then I envision the cajoling, begging, and whining I'll get from her. I think it's easier to just wait until she's old enough to have one too. Then there's that whole cheap factor--I don't really want to be paying more money to Verizon for a data plan.

And proving you just can't force birds to show up where you expect them to--this morning coming home from our walk at Maybury State Park on a busy street, right by the on-ramp for M-14 at Beck Rd. we saw a bald eagle on the side of the road eating road kill. I couldn't believe it.

Bay City, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Michigan
Level Contributor
5,258 posts
1,279 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Snowy owls in Michigan

I 100% agree with your take on the smart phone issue in your family. Kudos to you!

Cool on the bald eagle. Years ago (seems to be my theme today) we had a huge, beautiful willow tree in our backyard. One day, after letting out the dog, (a wiener dog), I spotted such a bald eagle in the very top of this tree, and it was watching our dog quite intently. I decided too intently-LOL. I walked out and picked the doggie up and came back inside. The bald eagle stayed there for a while, then migrated to the front yard (where I then had let the dog out) to the telephone pole. Stayed there quite a while, then flew off into the woods across the street. :)

Ann Arbor, MI
Destination Expert
for Michigan, Ann Arbor
Level Contributor
2,135 posts
174 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Snowy owls in Michigan

Yikes--that could have been a terrible ending to the eagle story tyme! Cool to see an eagle up close though. I keep a close eye on our dog boy in our yard. He's too heavy for hawks and the fox we have, but who knows if one day their eyes get bigger than their belly and they try to take him.

Raising a kid in the digital age sure is different than when I was a kid. I don't envy her all the complexities her generation has to learn to navigate as they grow up.

doggy1--do post if you find your snowy owl. We'll be out again next week looking.

Wisconsin
Level Contributor
5,099 posts
145 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Snowy owls in Michigan

I read the owls were heading your way. There were quite a few near our community. I didn't get to see any, really wanted to. One day I did hear a "whooo" (nor I'm not Horton). It took me a second to wonder if there had been an owl nearby.

Kansas
Destination Expert
for Mackinac Island, Mackinaw City, Kansas
Level Contributor
4,451 posts
229 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Snowy owls in Michigan

The owls have been as far south as Kansa this winter.

When I went to school at Lake Superior State in Sault Ste Marie, we had owls every winter. They would sit on the enormous light polls

Saginaw, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Western Ireland
Level Contributor
7,304 posts
Save Reply
9. Re: Snowy owls in Michigan

@tymetraveler:

Many thanks for your message about this topic. I've been battling a nasty head cold and didn't get to check this forum out till now.

We were lucky enough to see two! Snowy Owls at Tawas Point State Park, the day after Christmas Day. This was thanks to a fellow birder who saw them on Christmas Day and posted online at The Michigan Birding List:

birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/MICH.html

For those in the South East Michigan area, there were (are?) Snowy Owls in Harrison Township.

This web site covers bird sightings in South East Michigan, Northern Ohio and southern Ontario, (especially during Spring and Fall Migrations):

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bbowman/birds/se_mich/mi_bird.html

At one point in late December/early January, a Snowy Owl was spotted at Saginaw Woods in Ann Arbor. Also, in December, there was one seen and pictured in Au Gres, in mid Michigan. And, more recently, one in the Port Huron area:

http://www.saginawbaybirding.org/

thetimesherald.com/article/20120202/NEWS01/2…

Anybody wanting to read more on the reasons for the increase in Snowy Owl numbers so far south this winter, check out this New York Times article:

nytimes.com/2012/01/23/science/earth/spike-i…

Or, this transcript from an NPR story on the topic:

npr.org/2012/…snowy-owl-sighted-farther-south

Finally, many more birds than usual seem to have stayed around southern Michigan this winter, and/or are returning earlier.

For example, Red-winged blackbirds have already featured on recent sighting lists for the counties in the south east and Sandhill Cranes in the Jackson area.

Bay City, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Michigan
Level Contributor
5,258 posts
1,279 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Snowy owls in Michigan

Wow, Uasal, lots of fantastic information and great links. Thanks for sharing. Snowy Owls sure are beautiful and I am glad you got to see two of them! Hope you feel better soon. I'm going to go read the NY Time article...!