Snowy Owls’ Migration From The Arctic Has Easy Explanation [Video]

Patrick Frye - Author

Sep. 13 2017, Updated 3:18 a.m. ET

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The snow owls’ migration from the Arctic has some people wondering if they’ve suddenly become native to the southern portion of the United States based upon the greater number of sightings. Apparently, this is not the case, but the snowy owls do in fact have a reason just passing through.

In a related report by The Inquisitr, a medical study determined how owls can twist their heads all the way around without losing the blood supply to their brains.

When snowy owls migrate south this is called an irruption, and bird watchers have spotted the Arctic native as far south as the northern regions of South America. According to experts, it is normal for the 2-foot-tall owls to fly south from their breeding grounds each winter, but great numbers being seen in 2014 are rare even during the large-scale southern migrations.

Larry Clarfeld from the North Branch Nature Center says that snowy owls are pushed out of the Arctic based upon the need to feed themselves:

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“The reason we are seeing so many snowy owls this year has everything to do with their food. So in the Arctic breeding ground, snowy owls like to eat lemmings and this past summer of 2013, there were so many lemmings in the Arctic that many young snowy owls were born but once winter came there wasn’t enough food for them to stay in the Arctic so we had them moving south in record numbers.”

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The other possibility is that the numbers of lemmings are lower than usual, so the snowy owls are forced to forage for other food sources like voles, mice, and rabbits. The other factor is that snowy owls are constantly being pushed by aggressive competitors like polar bears, arctic wolves, and arctic foxes for the same limited pool of lemmmings, which might explain why so many fly south. Whatever the truth may be, the snowy owls stay until weather changes in the Arctic, then slowly migrate back north when the balance of predator and prey is corrected.


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