DNR reports at least 20 snowy owl sightings in Wisconsin: 'We always have at least some'

MADISON -- Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources issued an update on snowy owl sightings in the state ahead of Thanksgiving 2019.

DNR officials said as of Monday, Nov. 25, at least 20 owls had been documented in 12 Wisconsin counties, from Bayfield and Door County to the north, to Milwaukee County in the south.

CLICK HERE for a map of snowy owl sightings in Wisconsin. That map showed two sightings in Milwaukee Monday -- along South Shore Drive, and near the airport.

Officials said most of the snowy owls photographed in Wisconsin in late fall 2019 were adults, "suggesting low numbers of juveniles were produced on arctic breeding grounds" over the summer. Snowy owls' breeding success can vary greatly from year to year, officials said -- often booming when lemming populations are high.

As of Nov. 25, there had been 10 fewer snowy owl sightings in Wisconsin when compared with 2018, when there were 30.

2017 was an "interruption year," when there were 94 sightings by the end of November. DNR officials said every handful of years, however, large numbers move into the state, an event known as an "irruption." There were just five in 2016.

DNR officials said the data from 2019 suggests "a big winter for snowy owls is unlikely at this point, but we always have at least some around Wisconsin -- so keep your eyes peeled!"

Snowy owls are typically a northern species, nesting worldwide on the treeless tundra above the Arctic Circle. During a typical winter, some remain close to their breeding areas, while others head south into southern Canada and the northern United States -- with at least small numbers reaching Wisconsin each year, DNR officials said.

Be sure to give the birds plenty of space, and report any sightings to the DNR by CLICKING HERE.

You can find tips for finding one by CLICKING HERE.