That's not a Snowy Owl!

Every birder knows the excitement and rush that comes with the first view of a rare bird, and I'm sure we all know the crush of defeat when that rare bird turns out to be just a grocery bag flapping in the wind. Here's a place you can share your story or pictures of items that you thought were a rare bird.

Submissions welcome! Email me at
"I’ve been scanning these rooftops along the beach (Folly Beach, SC) for weeks. This one gets me every time!"

"I’ve been scanning these rooftops along the beach (Folly Beach, SC) for weeks. This one gets me every time!"

"Made me just about slam on my brakes!"

"Made me just about slam on my brakes!"

This one even flew away like a Snowy Owl!

This one even flew away like a Snowy Owl!


I’ve included three photos. One is of  the infamous tree-top-bag-snag. The second fake snowy is of a weathered angel statue that roosts atop a tombstone. The final double-take had me thinking Short-eared Owl as I viewed a piece of gravel quarry till from a half-mile away.
Each “falsey” was seen within a one square mile locale in Cecil County, MD on December 6 while I was out searching for the county’s first tick for SNOW…  -for which, it still waits.”

Need submissions!

Hey everyone, we need some more submissions!  I’m sure with all of the recent Snowy Owl activity in the northeastern US, someone has see a bag or another kind of Snowy Owl decoy!  Take a picture and submit it!


While hiking in the southern OR Cascades last spring (just a few miles from the CA border) I saw and heard a Red Crossbill. I didn’t have my camera with me, but took a pic with my phone. When I looked at the image, it was obviously way too dark (but trust me, that’s a Red Crossbill). However, when I got home, a closer look revealed something very white in the middle of the tree. The second image is a cropped-on-my-iPad close up.

Any guesses? BTW, the location is not far from Bigfoot country, so…”

"First one is understandable, the second was, at first, a distance away in an area where one had been the day before. It was quite a walk to be disappointed…"

On June 2, 2012 I was doing a bird survey on a private ranch north of Cheyenne, Wyoming.  In the first minute of the survey I saw this bird on the fence on the horizon about 500-600m away from me.  I swore it was a Snowy Owl, and wrote down the four letter code SNOW on my datasheet… (One had been seen in Northern Wyoming only a few days before!)

Throughout the 6 minute survey I kept checking out the owl through my binoculars and it never stopped staring at me.  At the end of the survey I walked over to it and as I got closer, I realized it was something stuck to the fence.  Walking even closer, it still looked like an owl until I got withing about 50m, where it became obvious that it was a cow skull that was perfectly positioned.  The “face” is the backside of the skull.