Snowy Owls make Lake Monona their temporary home

Madison bird enthusiasts and photographers take advantage from a distance
The Wisconsin DNR has seen the number of snowy owls in Wisconsin doubled this year.
Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 6:56 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 26, 2022 at 7:04 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Snowy Owls brought photographers and bird enthusiasts to the Madison area during their temporary stay on Lake Monona.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Conservation Biologist Ryan Brady said they’ve accounted for 150 snowy owls in the state- double the number of arctic birds that visited in 2021.

He said every four years the nesting season in Canada goes so well that Wisconsin sees an “irruption” of snowy owls when they fly south during the winter.

“So in this case they’re probably sticking around because there’s some small rodents there,” Brady said. “If there’s any open water then they might be eating some ducks in the area.”

Owl enthusiast and photographer Kenton Fowler captured several pictures of the snowy owls on Monona.

“A lot of locals wanted to see it and a lot of people haven’t,” Fowler said. “It’s kind of just dumb luck if it’s going to be out here or not. I just have this feeling that it’s probably gotten too famous and it was time to go.”

Brady said the birds could come and go for awhile because they will not head home to the Arctic until March or April.

“So we definitely have at least another month if not two of getting to appreciate the owls and enjoy them not only in Madison but in other portions of the state,” he said.

Fowler will keep checking to see if the winter birds return to their Lake Monona perch.

“I’ll keep up with it. It’s beautiful out here regardless of if there’s an owl,” Fowler said. “The owl was really a bonus.”

“To see people get excited about them never really gets old for me,” Brady said. “They’re a great charismatic species that is a good way to get people to connect with nature.”

Brady asked that photographers keep their distance and not use the camera’s flash because it could impair an owl’s hearing and vision.

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