My name is Sifu Stubby Webb. I am a kung fu instructor in Vinton, Iowa. One thing that kung fu and Zen teaches, is everything can be a lesson. And recently a bringer of wisdom flew near me in a lesson I know I will never forget.

On Friday, December 15, 2023, around 10:30 am as I was driving to get onto the on-ramp of 218 I saw a most beautiful bird. I slowed down enough to watch it perch itself onto a lamppost. He turned his head towards me and I knew for sure, I saw my first Snowy Owl.

I was so ecstatic about my discovery and yet in a much-needed hurry to get to my appointment that my partner reported it for me. Within a minute he texted me informing over a thousand Iowan birders now know about my bird.

It made the rare bird alert list.

Within hours pictures were pouring onto the Iowa birding Facebook account. Paul Brooks (owner of the photos) confirmed the sighting. During this time of people gathering to see him, I was officiating my first wedding to my chosen parents. I was having a very blessed day.

Then I read the comments, and the lessons started to pour in. I learned this bird was a he. Not a she like I was first calling it. I learned he ate a vole. I learned they needed many rodents up to 6 on average a day and that is how they get most of the water intake. I learned he is a first-year fledging. I learned how to properly watch the owl from your car from a safe distance. I learned who to call if the owl was hurt.

I watched the concern and love pour over this owl. People who worried if it was okay, sick, or needed a vet. I watched people look over the many photos of the owl and I enjoyed reading their own stories of their own spotting over the years.

This little white being was teaching so many people, so many things. This little snowy owl, whom I will call Fredrick, has continued to bring so much education and joy as the days went by and more pictures and videos come pouring in.

Here is some important reminders if you see a rare bird:

1. Keep a safe distance. Stay quiet and don't move much unless needed. The less stress is best.

2. When reporting, get the exact location, date and time, and if possible a photo. If getting a photo makes rule number one be broken, skip the photo. The bird comes first.

3. Enjoy. Nature is beautiful. So enjoy the moment!

4. If the bird is hurt people call your local DNR, raptor center, or other bird sanctuaries to help get it help. Do not proceed to the help the bird unless they give you proper instructions on how to do so safely.

I want to thank everyone who made my first snowy owl sighting so special. All the people who took the photos, the lessons they shared, and of course to you too, Fredrick.

Thank you for flying into my little spot in the world and thank you for the wisdom you brought with you.

Deepest Bow Sifu Stubby Webb


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PK December 18, 2023, 9:31 pm Owls are one of God's gifts to us. They should be seen and appreciated. I have never seen a snowy owl, but I have been close to a screech owl and a barn owl, which is my favorite owl.

Thank you for your story!!