Like Seeing Santa Claus On A Beach

Bird-watchers and photographers on the lookout for the snowy owl. Mark Rightmire/The Orange County Register.

Closing out 2022 with a story that all in our bird-centric community will enjoy, I know from firsthand experience what unexpected encounters with birds can do:

Neighbors have come to notice a pattern with the bird, which seems to take off in the evenings before reappearing sometime later. Mark Rightmire/The Orange County Register

‘Extremely Rare’ Snowy Owl Sighting Transfixes a California Suburb

What brought the owl to the city of Cypress, in Orange County, remains a mystery.

The forbidding frozen wilderness of the high Arctic tundra is the natural home of the snowy owl, a great predator perfectly adapted to hunting its primary food source, lemmings.

But sometime over the last few weeks, one snowy owl in particular made a surprise appearance in noticeably less harsh terrain — the shingled roofs and white chimneys of suburban Southern California.

What brought the owl to the city of Cypress, in Orange County, about 25 miles southeast of Los Angeles, remains a mystery and the subject of impassioned debate among the scores of bird watchers and curious neighbors who have come out to marvel at the bird.

Whatever the owl’s journey may have been, the sight of such an unusual raptor set among streets lined with palm trees has been “amazing,” said Nancy Caruso, a neighbor who has seen the owl.

“It’s like seeing Santa Claus on a beach,” said Ms. Caruso, a marine biologist. “Like that out of place, but cool.”

Neighbors have come to notice a pattern with the bird, which seems to take off around 5 p.m. before reappearing sometime later, like a commuter, to its suburban roost.

“I have been hanging out with him a couple of times a day, and I’m not a bird guy in any way, shape or form,” said Joshua Lindsay, a general contractor who lives nearby.

He said the “absolutely ginormous” owl had been “divebombed by hawks and robins” and “would look over at them, like, ‘Really? What the hell are you going to do?’”…

Read the whole article here.

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