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Snowy Owls Migrate to United States in Search of Food [Video]

snowy-owls-migration-united-states-2012

Snowy owls, typically seen in Arctic regions, are traveling south to places such as Michigan, Kansas, and even Texas in greater numbers this winter, delighted birdwatchers say.

“What we’re seeing now — it’s unbelievable.This is the most significant wildlife event in decades,” Reuters reported Denver Holt the head of the Owl Research Institute as saying.

According to experts, it is normal for the 2-foot-tall owls to fly south from their breeding grounds each winter but this year’s great number is rare even during the large-scale periodic southern migrations known as irruptions.

Although this winter’s snowy owl outbreak remains largely a mystery of nature, speculation has been that the strange phenomenon is probably due to a lack of food – generally lemmings – in the birds’ traditional habitat.

“There’s a lot of speculation. As far as hard evidence, we really don’t know,” Holt said.

Holt added that another possibility is that right before the sudden absence of lemmings, the owls had a very productive breeding season, so there are far more of them than usual, and they were forced too hunt outside their normal range. Adding to the plausibility of this theory were reports in Michigan that the owls had been eating small voles, mice and rabbits.

Whatever the cause, bird enthusiasts are overjoyed and have been traveling in record numbers to areas where the owls have been spotted just to get a rare glimpse of the beautiful visitors.

“There`s something about a snowy owl for a bird watcher. It`s kind of neat in the middle of the winter because there`s not many birds around. There`s a big, white owl sitting on a bench post out in the open, quietly gazing around. It`s always something that a birder loves to see,” said Corey Ellingson with the N.D. Birding Society.

Have there been any Snowy Owl sightings in your state? Let us know in the comment section below.

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Comments

17 Responses to “Snowy Owls Migrate to United States in Search of Food [Video]”

  1. Sylvia DaSilva

    My friends in Plymouth, MA photograph all kinds of birds, and caught some snowy owls in Plymouth within the past 2 weeks.

  2. Jessie Rountree

    I saw one here on the edge of town, on a light pole, just before thanks. We are close to alke Michigan, and have a fairly dense wooded area between town, and the lake. I'm in oostburg,wi, just east of hwy 43.

  3. Monica Powell Buchanan

    I saw one in my back yard in the winter of 1985, when I was living in Myrtle Beach, SC. Yes, I was really shocked, counted myself very lucky to have witnessed it.

  4. Charles Burkhardt

    Union City, California In the past year every so often we see one fly just above our deck around 6:30pm.

  5. Sorcha Ní Aoláin

    this is rather insufficient coverage of the situation in the arctic — with zero investigation or exploration into the reason the lemming populations is decreasing. Please don't tell me you are one of the many US media outlets still in denial about global warming? and I doubt all the bird-loving population are in agreement with your comment that this is a "mystery of nature". Is the melting ice in Greenland also a mystery? C'mon. Put some beef in your analysis.

  6. Debbie Hiers

    I heard beating wings above me tonight about 8:45 p.m. standing in our backyard with our Yorkie puppy. I looked up to see two large white owls gliding only 15 ft. above us and the largest one screeched an earsplitting noise looking down at our pup who was walking along our solid cedar fence. Both bird's wing spans were over 3 ft. I was so surprised I watched them glide out to the field behind our house but when they immediately circled back towards our yard, I picked up Roxie and went in the house. I called a friend and she shared that a family north of us has lost several dachshund puppies from the white owls swooping down and taking them from the yard in broad daylight! What is going on with the Arctic white owl invasion?

  7. Debbie Hiers

    Thanks – it was freaky. Website corespondent told me tonight that they are pure instinct killing machines, pick up animals as large as skunks, and small pets are definitely in danger.

  8. Laura Anderson Andrews

    oh my! Be sure to wear a sombrero next time you're out there :-)

  9. Jean Swafford

    interesting.–don't know much about birds–I know the -chicken hawks or vultures- whatever they are called that generally roost on the water tower next to our apartment building every year didn't return this year– our residents always enjoy watching the in the evening, but our faithful doves did return. we have 2 pair that always return.