Snowy Owls Spotted in New Jersey

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Snowy Owl "Island Beach" sitting on a post

Snowy owls from Canada sometimes come as far south as coastal New Jersey.

Snowy owls normally stay further north and we’ll only get a few in Jersey.

Some years there are “irruptions” where unusually high numbers go further south in search of food. The last big influx was in 2013.

2017 was the first time snowy owls were caught in New Jersey and fitted with electronic trackers.

These two photos were taken on December 26th, 2018 (from a distance, using a long lens). 

Snowy owl sitting in dune grass
Snowy owl in flight

Where to spot Snowy Owls in NJ

Open coastal areas such as Island Beach State Park, Edwin B. Forsythe NWR, Cape May Lighthouse area, Sandy Hook, and Barnegat Light are good areas to try to spot one. 

The exact location of an owl is not generally posted online to protect the birds. Project SNOWstorm shows the locations of tagged birds on an interactive map (information is not real-time).

The ones tagged in New Jersey in 2017 were named “Island Beach”, “Lenape”, and “Higbee”.

Non-real time general locations are also available on eBird’s Snowy Owl Spotting list. Sort by state and scroll to New Jersey.

Currently… As of 12/9/20, an owl has been spotted at Forsythe NWR.

These two photos were taken at Forsythe on December 9, 2020:

Snowy owl sitting on a speed limit sign

This owl appears to be female and has consistently spent most of it’s time close to the road undisturbed by people activity.

Snowy owl with eyes closed sitting on mile marker sign

If you spot a snowy owl…

It’s VERY important not to disturb an owl. Be sure to check out Snowy Owl Etiquette.

Keep your distance and do not feed an owl, ever. The owls can be very naive around people and let them get too close.


Want to get in a hike too?

We’ve got hike guides for Island Beach and Forsythe NWR.


More Photos…

These were taken along the New Jersey shore during several weeks in December 2017 and January 2018, using a very large telephoto lens in order to get this close.

Snowy owl with wings open perched on a thin post
Snowy owl perched on a branch with yellow eyes visible
Snowy owl with wings spread perched on a branch
Snowy owl sitting on a sand dune with its head looking over its shoulder
Snowy owl sitting on a sand dune with its eyes half open
Snowy owl with wings spread in flight
Snowy owl with wing spread up just over a sand dune
Snowy owl yawning wide
Snowy owl yawning while sitting on wooden post

For further reading…