Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe
I also loved the collecting because it gave me a chance to run through the fields waving a butterfly net. There was a time when a fondness for birding was enough to establish your reputation as a true eccentric. But lately, birding has shown signs of becoming rather depressingly mainstream. A couple of months ago, Time magazine discovered it; and the new Life devotes several pages to a review of top birding spots. Bird-watchers are becoming as ordinary as bass fishermen, but a butterfly net is still the mark of a loony.Sullivan began writing his column in January 1987. January happens to be one of the best times to see a snowy owl in Chicago, and it was a subject he returned to frequently, perhaps anticipating the popularity of snowy owls after Harry Potter adopted Hedwig.
and regardless of your knowledge of—or attitude toward—birds, you will probably think the sight of a snowy owl is a big deal. It is very difficult to be indifferent to an owl, especially a big owl and even more especially to a big white owl with yellow eyes. Sparrows are just birds, but owls are bearers of messages from the realm of the supernatural and often omens in their own right. Flush a snowy owl from a Lake Michigan beach and watch that broad five-foot wingspan raise that heavy body from the ground, and you won't forget it.The mild weather might be a good excuse to go find a snowy owl for yourself.