Greg Lucke got an alert from a friend on Facebook at 1:52 p.m. that a rare Snowy Owl was perched on the headquarters of the Washington Post in downtown D.C. He left his nearby office at National Geographic and was at the scene with binoculars in hand by 2 p.m.
“It’s fantastic,” Lucke says of seeing the owl for the first time. “A new bird for me is always great.”
Lucke wasn’t the only urban birdwatcher out today. Four people from the American Bird Conservancy drove from their office north of Dupont Circle to look at the owl.
One of the vice presidents at the American Bird Conservancy, Mike Parr, explained that these owls typically live in the northern polar regions and eat lemmings. When there are a lot of lemmings, they procreate more. But at the end of the breeding season, this usually means there are fewer lemmings and more owls, so some of the owls are edged out, which is why they appear in the U.S. on the rare occasion. The bird was also spotted in McPherson Square on Wednesday.
Bobbie Brinegar came out in the freezing weather for the owl because she is the executive director of a women’s advocacy organization called OWL and is looking for a mascot.
“This is a perfect little guy,” she says. “He’s endearing.”
Also there at some point: seemingly every reporter at the Washington Post. In addition to a barrage of tweets from staff members, the rather comfortable owl generated two posts for the paper’s website this afternoon. (The paper also wrote about the owl on Wednesday.)
And yes, in case you were wondering, the Post team did create a gif out of the owl’s head movement.
Photo by Perry Stein