We wanted to make Day One of The Quest for 500™ special, so we headed to Milwaukee. We never birded there before, but a Snowy Owl had been sighted at the Coast Guard Impoundment, so we decided to check it out. There’s been a irruption of Snowies this year, but in spite of several attempts, we dipped every time, so we were in serious danger of losing our Birder Creds, which, though lousy, are hard earned.

We didn’t see it when we first arrived, so we set up beneath an underpass and managed to see some good birds, such as RUDDY DUCKS, NORTHERN PINTAILS,and BUFFLEHEADS. The big catches were WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS and a LONG-TAILED DUCK, the first male we’ve seen. Then I checked the Wisconsin list on my phone and got detailed instructions on the SNOWY OWL. We found it immediately.

"It's no taiga, but the rats are delicious."

It’s always a bit sad when Snowies are so far south, castaways in an urban environment. This setting was particularly bleak, as the crummy digiscoped photo shows. But who knows what the Snowy felt? There are plenty of critters in the city, and brat-fed rat isn’t the wurst you can do.