Jan 18
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When we get hungry, we head to the refrigerator or pantry. When the stock gets low we head to the grocery store. Birds, like owls, don’t have the luxury of the grocery store. When food sources are low, owls move to “greener” pastures. That is exactly what is happening this winter with Snowy Owls.

Snowy Owls live in the Arctic feasting on their mainstay food source of lemmings. Lemmings, in the rodent family, have been described as little sausages with legs. When there are not enough lemmings and other prey to feed the owl population then the owls irrupt southward looking for more abundant food source.

It seems there was an abundance of lemmings during the owls’ breeding season last spring. In response, the owls laid more eggs than usual and the newly hatched owlets thrived. With winter’s approach, it seems there was not enough food sources to feed the increased population of owls. This caused many Snowies to leave, or irrupt south, to find food.

Like other owls, Snowy Owls have very good eyesight and hearing for hunting. They eat small rodents and rabbits as well as small birds and waterfowl like ducks and grebes. They will even catch fish to eat. They mostly hunt from a perch sitting and waiting for prey.

The Snowy Owls are expected to start moving back to the Arctic breeding grounds in February. They have been seen as far south as Oklahoma. Be sure to find out if they are in your area. Click here to see a dynamic map of January sightings on eBird.org.

What birds have you seen lately that seem out of the ordinary?

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Dec 08
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It seems to be a snowy beginning to December. I am not talking about snow flakes or Frosty the Snowman. I am talking about the big, beautiful and very white Snowy Owl.

Saturday morning found me doing the normal, relaxed Saturday routine. However, by Noon, my girls and I were out the door. We were chasing down a Snowy Owl that was only a half-hour drive away. What an opportunity!

We packed up the birding gear and headed to the local municipal airport. We arrived to a small group of 10 people all looking in the same direction. The owl was atop one of the hangers with only the shoulder and head being visible. Since we forgot the camera, I ended up using my iPhone to snap a picture through the spotting scope. What a cool sight!

Bird listservs are buzzing with Snowy Owl sightings throughout the northern half of the United States. Right now, Snowies are as far south as Kansas. This is lower than their usual wintering range of lower Canada; which means it is an irruption year for Snowy Owls!

Snowy Owls breed in the arctic. It seems there were a lot of young born this year and the food supply, primarily lemmings, is not sufficient. This combination may be causing the Southward irruption for the Snowies to find food. Whatever the reason, it is an opportunity for many to see a unique bird.

Check out eBird.org link for recent Snowy Owl sightings.

Have you seen a Snowy Owl or other interesting birds recently?

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