Snowy Owl Makes a Surprise Appearance in Southern California Town

Snowy Owl Appears in Southern California

Screenshot & Photo via Josh Gravely

Before 2022 came to a close, residents of a Southern California town were treated to a surprising sight. Spotted on top of a suburban rooftop was a large and magnificent snowy owl, who was a ways away from home. The large-winged predator is native to arctic tundras such as northern Canada and Greenland but it somehow made its way to an area 25 miles away from Los Angeles, where there are more palm trees than snow.

It was first seen perched on someone's house in Cypress, California, on December 27, and has remained a daily fixture of the area ever since. “It’s astonishing to see a snowy owl in Southern California,” Chris Spurgeon, program chair and member of the board of directors at the Pasadena Audubon Society, said. He explains that even in areas where they are indigenous, it is still difficult to spot them. In fact, there are only about 500,000 snowy owls in the world, making this visitor to California all the more mysterious.

“Birds that migrate do occasionally do crazy things: go in the wrong direction, go too far, migrate at the wrong time of year, stuff like that,” Spurgeon adds. One theory is that the snowy owl is younger and has not had as much experience migrating, leading him to fly too far away from home. Even so, it seems as though it has acclimated to the unfamiliar surroundings; thanks, in part, to the cooler California weather. Additionally, bird experts that have been monitoring the snowy owl have not noticed any signs of injury or illness; it also does not appear to possess a leg band or clipped wings which would indicate it was an escaped captive bird.

Fortunately, there is enough small prey in the area for it to hunt. So, for now, the snowy owl is a happy new resident of Southern California.

A snowy owl made a surprise appearance in a Southern Californian town.


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A post shared by Josh Gravley (@joshg_photos)

The large bird—which is not native to the area—was seen in Cypress, a town 25 miles outside of Los Angeles.

h/t: [CNN, Smithsonian Magazine]

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Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. She wrote and illustrated an instructional art book about how to draw cartoons titled 'Cartooning Made Easy: Circle, Triangle, Square' that was published by Walter Foster in 2022.
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