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Birdwatching flock to catch a glimpse of the rare snowy owl in the American capital

The white dome of the US Capitol glowed all night, illuminating a small group of people down the hill, tightly bundled in the cold of winter, and carrying a camera with binoculars and a long lens.

The miscellaneous crew wasn’t there to film Washington’s famous monuments. They turned to the snowy owl, a rare creature that came from the Arctic.

“I’m there!” Exclaimed one of the birdwatchers.

The crowd repositioned to get a better angle.

“It’s amazing. I’ve been bird watching for a long time. This is the first time I’ve seen a snowy owl,” said enthusiastic Mereia Rose, 41.

Bird watching, or bird watching, is a popular pastime in the United States, where hobbyists usually hike through the woods or camp in the countryside to find different types of birds.

Therefore, the appearance of the majestic owl in the city a week ago was far south of its normal habitat and proved to be a magnet.

“You can see the Capitol,” Rose said, wrapped in a large winter coat and accompanied by her partner. “The contrast with the city, the wilderness, especially it’s so … having a monumental and iconic DC is fascinating.

At that time, the couple who hired a babysitter could look closely at the rare birds and mark the “snowy owl” from the “life list” catalog of all the birds they saw.

Like others staring at young female owls identified by gray and white feathers, Rose was warned of arrival by eBird, the network that birdwatching uses to signal particularly interesting discoveries. .. The network recorded 200 million observations last year by 290,000 enthusiasts around the world.

Users have identified a snowy owl near Union Station, a lively transportation hub down the road from the Capitol. There, taxi lines turn around the grassy park, sidewalks cross, and homeless tents are scattered.

In the center of the park, on a marble fountain, yellow eyes peeped in and looking for a night treat. Probably one of the countless mice in the capital.

“Arctic Visitors”

One of the recent visitors was Jacques Pitteloud, the Swiss Ambassador to the United States and a passionate birdwatcher.

“The snowy owl has been on my list for a long time, but it’s really great to see it in the middle of Washington, DC,” Pitteloud told AFP.

“She was really a Union Station superstar!” He added.

These birds with wide white wings “like creatures of another world,” explained Kevin McGowan, a professor at Cornell University’s Institute of Bird Sciences.

Snowy owls live near the Arctic for most of the year, but most move south during the winter and usually stop near the US-Canada border.

So far, South’s visit to Washington is “like a polar bear coming to your neighborhood,” McGowan said.

“Snowy owls are very charismatic birds,” said Scott Weidensaul, co-leader of Project SNOWstorm, a group that studies and tracks snowy owls.

“Especially in bird watching in Washington, DC, watching bird watching is a rare event. It’s a big deal.”

Edward Edder, wearing a black down jacket, set up his camera for two consecutive days. Equipped with an ultra-long lens that allows you to see birds up close.

“During the pandemic, many people took up birdwatching and became more enthusiastic,” explained the 71-year-old retiree.

As parents show the way, a small group of children try to glimpse the bird. You may even recognize this as a relative of Harry Potter’s Snowy Owl companion, Hedwig, in cult books and movie series.

Birdwatching flock to catch a glimpse of the rare snowy owl in the American capital

Source link Birdwatching flock to catch a glimpse of the rare snowy owl in the American capital

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