ODESSA, TX (KOSA) - Ever since reports of a rare snowy owl was making appearances in the Permian Basin bird enthusiasts are flocking to catch a glimpse at this elusive bird.
The owl was spotted earlier this week at the Discount Tires off 191 in Odessa. Jeremey Clothier, with the Sibley Nature, was finally able to catch a glimpse himself.
“It’s really awesome. Especially if you’re a birder like me. It’s just a rare thing,” Clothier said.
Researchers believe this type of influx comes when there are surges in the owl’s main food source, lemmings — a rodent that lives under the Arctic snowpack.
About every three or four years, the owl population explodes when there is more of the rodent. As a result, more birds than usual will winter south of Canada, where they stick out with their feathers designed to camouflage them in the Arctic snow.
The birds that come this far south are typically juveniles on their own, like the female owl that was spotted perched on the telephone pole in Odessa.
“There are a lot of people out there that keep lists....like okay I’ve seen this bird in this county and this is an awesome year that if you’re keeping list you can check off that I saw a snowy owl in Ector County.”
One of those list takers came in from San Antonio. She said that they didn’t even hesitate when they saw that one of these majestic creatures had been spotted in Texas.
Like many of the birders gathered, Laura, had visited the spot multiple times to see the owl. She was finally able to add the bird to her list of 296 bird species she’s spotted in her lifetime.
“To me it’s a once in a lifetime experience. I didn’t think I would ever see a snowy owl and when we found out there was one this close to San Antonio it wasn’t even a difficult decision to come and look for myself.”
Another visitor, called Skip, drove eight hours from the Coast to get a glimpse.
“It’s a probably once in a lifetime opportunity for a birder to get to see an owl like that in the state of Texas.”
He said he wasn’t missing this opportunity.
“It’s a good bird. Outstanding bird actually. Not one you count on seeing. So when you get to see one it’s pretty much a rarity.”