January 1st, 2012
This has been one of the best years for seeing Snowy Owls in the in a long time. Every 5-10 years Snow Owls irrupt from their arctic territory and we see an increased number of birds across the US. Standing nearly two feet tall and weighing about four pounds, the Snowy Owl is North America’s heaviest owl and it is a rare treat to see one in person.
The cause of irruptions is usually a serious drop in the populations of lemmings, a small rodent that is a primary food source for the owls. However, this year lemmings were born in huge numbers which allowed many more young snowy owls to survive the first months of their lives. This influx in the snowy owl population means increased competition for food and has caused many owls to push from their home ranges in search of food. All across the US from the Oregon to New Jersey people are experiencing these rare birds personally.
Here are some images from a bird in Minnesota I have been lucky enough to photograph.