Snowy Owl spotted in Joliet
By bob okon email@example.com December 19, 2012 7:48PM
A snowy owl rests on the top of the Hobby Lobby building at 1400 North Larkin Avenue in Joliet, IL Photo by Will County Audubon Society's, Ruth Meyer. | submitted photo
Updated: January 21, 2013 3:53PM
JOLIET — A Snowy Owl’s short stay at the Joliet Hobby Lobby store stirred up local bird lovers and got the attention of even casual observers on Tuesday.
The Snowy Owl’s habitat typically is in the Arctic and Canada. It is known to be seen occasionally along the lakefront in Chicago.
But on top of the Hobby Lobby in Joliet? And, right above the entrance sign, where it was easy for even the casual craft customer to see the owl known for its snowy white feathers, large size and role as a companion to Harry Potter in both books and movies.
“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Hobby Lobby employee Kristina Knowski, who is both a bird watcher and bird painter.
To have the bird just sitting there so easy to see, rather than having to tromp through woodlands and wetlands with boots and binoculars made the occasion remarkable for Knowski and others.
At one point about 15 people were standing outside the Hobby Lobby, 1400 N. Larkin Ave., looking at the owl, Knowski said.
“I think he was enjoying the attention. He was posing for photographs,” she said. “He was very still.”
The bird arrived at about 8:30 a.m. and left around 11 a.m., Knowski said. It’s believed that a Salvation Army volunteer’s bell ringing may have finally prompted the owl’s departure but not before many bird lovers’ took in the sight.
“There were a couple of people with long telephoto lenses when I got there,” said Rita Renwick with the Will County chapter of the Illinois Audubon Society.
Renwick said Snowy Owls are occasionally spotted along the Chicago lakefront. Spottings farther inland are rare, she said, and usually attract a lot of attention.
“One year there was one spotted south of the LaSalle County nuclear plant,” Renwick said. “People were climbing all over looking for it.”
Finding this one was much easier.
“A lot of customers stopped and looked at the bird,” Knowski said. “He was sitting right at the top of our Hobby Lobby sign. ... It was a very special sighting.”