This Snowy Owl, perched on the roof of the barn at Wellwood Orchard, was discovered and posted on eBird by a local birder last Sunday, February 23. Based on plumage characteristics described by Kevin McGowan of The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, this individual appears to be a male. Note the overall whiteness of the bird and relative scarcity of the dark markings on its back. The markings are also thin or narrow. And, the dark markings on the tail are also thin and do not merge forming complete or nearly complete bars. Although not visible in the photo, the unmarked white bib of male owls is usually more extensive than that shown by females.
As of today the owl was still present on the barn and easily observable from Wellwood Orchard Road. Birders should not venture onto orchard property and should refrain from activities that might agitate or distress the bird. After last winter's irruption of Snowy Owls south of Canada, including one bird that was present in Springfield, VT, getting another opportunity to view this impressive species is a real treat. Irruptions into New England are reported to occur every 3 to 6 years or so. For more information on Snowy Owl invasions check out the eBird article "The Winter of The Snowy Owl" which was posted February 2, 2012.