Snowy owls return to the Jersey Shore



After gracing the Jersey Shore with their presence during recent winters, the majestic snowy owls have returned.

Snowy owls have recently been spotted in Ocean County coastal areas.

Experts say the birds prefer open fields, beaches, and sand dunes, all of which are similar to their native habitat. The snowy owl hails from the Canadian tundra, according to The Raptor Trust, a non-profit bird rehabilitation facility based in Millington, NJ.

Experts say to keep your distance from the birds, as they may be hungry, tired, and stressed from their long journey to the area.

In 2014, an influx of photographers walking on dunes in Island Beach State Park prompted a state official to remind the public to respect the fragile ecosystem.

“Many folks are tempted to leave the marked trails and trek through and over the dune system in an effort to find particular birds. Any foot traffic will impact a dune — any traffic,” then park manager Ray Bukowski said. “Each footprint will destabilize the sand and cause erosion, one step will destroy a dune grass plant or break a vital rhizome which knit the dune and stabilize the structure.”