“A lot of people who have never seen one before have rushed out and seen multiples,” said Marshall Iliff, an ornithologist at Cornell and the project’s leader. “And photographers are having a field day.”
Additional hot spots include the mouth of the Columbia River in Washington State, with 10 to 13 birds; 20 at Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge in South Dakota, and 30 in Boundary Bay, near Vancouver in British Columbia.
The owls are even showing up in urban and suburban areas, along highways, on signs and fence posts, and in other places where people can more easily spot them. It has been a good snowy owl year at Logan Airport in Boston, too. Because the airfield looks like tundra, snowy owls tend to flock there, and they must be trapped and removed.
“We’ve removed 21 so far this year, and the average is six,” said Norman Smith, who works for the Massachusetts Audubon Society and traps the birds. The most ever trapped was 43 in 1986, Mr. Smith said, “but the year’s not over.”
Experts say that the birds don't seem to be particularly hungry or stressed, so that doesn't explain the move south. The owls are expected to return north as the seasons change. Link -via Holy Kaw!
(Image credit: Flickr user Ian Turk)
This is called an irruption year. There were lots of lemmings this past breeding season, that means lots of young snowy owls, and so lots of them go further and further south, looking for food. I know one in central Ohio was found dead of starvation, probably the same fate for quite a few unfortunately.
I also know one showed up in Hawaii of all places, and was shot when it couldn't be scared off an active runway.
That would suck, being "the guy who shot Hedwig" eh?