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CPW urges public to keep respectful distance as dozens of wildlife watchers flock to Lake Pueblo for glimpse of Arctic-dwelling snowy owl

CPW urges public to keep respectful distance as dozens of wildlife watchers flock to Lake Pueblo for glimpse of Arctic-dwelling snowy owl
Bill Vogrin



Jan. 8, 2018

Snowy owl, a rare visitor from the Arctic, has birders flocking to Lake Pueblo

PUEBLO, Colo. – Colorado Parks and Wildlife is urging bird lovers to keep a safe distance as they try to observe a rare snowy owl sighted at Lake Pueblo State Park.

April Estep, a CPW wildlife biologist who specializes in raptors, said the owl might stay in the area several days if it is not harassed by bird watchers.

“As with all wildlife, please be respectful of its space and try not to disturb its rest or hunting efforts,” Estep said. “Take advantage of this rare opportunity to see the snowy owl, but please keep your distance.”

Birders were all a twitter when the snowy owl, typically found in the Arctic region of North America, showed up Monday at Lake Pueblo’s South Marina. It is only the second recorded snowy owl for Pueblo County. The first snowy owl was seen here on Dec. 15, 1984.

Dozens of wildlife watchers, alerted by photos on social media, flocked to the park for a glimpse of the raptor with its distinctive white face, yellow eyes and black beak.

“It’s exciting,” said Monique Mullis, Lake Pueblo park manager. “We have birders lined up with their scopes and cameras trying to get a view of it.”

Snowy owls typically inhabit nests on the Arctic tundra and feed on rodents and waterfowl and will eat carrion when the opportunity arises. In winter, they move south into Canada.

Every few years, Coloradoans get a chance to see snowy owls in their own backyard. In 2014, the lower 48 states saw an irruption of mostly immature male snowy owls. The irruption was thought to be triggered by a record nesting season among the breeding population in northern Quebec. Irruptions can be created from food scarcity or increased population numbers.

An even bigger event is a “superflight” when the combination of high populations and climatological patterns send multiple northern species deep into the central and southern U.S.

The winter of 2017-18 is seeing an irruption of snowy owls once again. The snowy owls started making their way into Colorado in December. Other snowy owl sightings have been in Otero, Las Animas, Lincoln, Jefferson, Larimer and Morgan counties.

More information on snowy owls can be found at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website

PHOTOS: Courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife


CPW is an enterprise agency, relying primarily on license sales, state parks fees and registration fees to support its operations, including: 41 state parks and more than 350 wildlife areas covering approximately 900,000 acres, management of fishing and hunting, wildlife watching, camping, motorized and non-motorized trails, boating and outdoor education. CPW's work contributes approximately $6 billion in total economic impact annually throughout Colorado.

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