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).
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:
This owl appears to be female and has consistently spent most of it’s time close to the road undisturbed by people activity.
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?
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.
For further reading…
- Losing Higbee / Project Snowstorm
- The Bird Watcher: A banner year for snowy owls / northjersey.com
- Now also in NC: Snowy owls return to the Outer Banks
- Who knew? Snowy owl explosion possible in N.J. this year / nj.com
- Snowy owls flock to New Jersey and Pennsylvania/ Philly Inquirer
- Tracking snowy owls in the Garden State / nj1015.com
- “NJ Audubon secures Snowy Owl near Island Beach State Park” / mycentraljersey.com