Previous confirmed sightings of Snowy Owls have only occurred three times in Dallas and all prior to 1960. In 2002, a Snowy Owl was confirmed in Abilene Texas.
David Renfro, a Dallas Police Officer, had recently read the syndicated national news reports of the irruption of Snowy Owls that made headlines the last week in January 2012 when he discovered the Snowy Owl on his beat in Robertson Park on Lake Ray Hubbard in early February. He came back with photo gear to document the sighting and had it confirmed.
The sighting was posted on eBird and regional birders started the chase to locate the rare Texas visitor. She was elusive for most of the first week but sighted several days later providing most regional birders with a new addition to their life list.
A few experts are concerned that Snowy Owls that fly south into the lower 48 don’t adapt their diets to available food sources and eventually starve to death. Fortunately we witnessed the Texas Snowy eject a pellet that was safely collected for examination so we know she is eating. Also, a gull was found under the original perch location so we believe she has found an abundant food source. The Texas heat is a different matter so we hope she heads north while she still can.
While I hope to one day photograph a Snowy in the glory of their natural habitat for my portfolio, for now I’ll have to be content with crossing paths with one during a very rare visit to Texas. Here are a few images of the rare visitor. We wish her safe travels back to the Tundra.