A friend in Virginia emailed me yesterday about five Snowy Owls reported in his state, pretty unusual for Virginia. Also yesterday the Associated Press carried a story describing Snowies being seen in many unusual places at this early winter date, east to west. Guide book author Lillian Stokes was quoted as saying this could be a record year for sightings of that Arctic bird in the U.S. So far in Minnesota, our birding email line has carried notes of sightings in Meeker, St. Louis, and Polk counties. Perhaps a half dozen other sightings have been reported in the Dakotas. The owl below was photographed last year in South Dakota.