SciSun: Maybe they have letters to deliver…..   Leave a comment

There’s a very rare event happening over much of America that has many people excited. For the first time in years, hundreds of Snowy Owls (Bubo scandiacus) are traveling from their homes in far Northern Canada and the Arctic to as far south as as Ohio and Kansas, and even into Northern California!. While rare, this is not un-heard of and the scientists even have a name for it – ‘irruption which is defined as a sudden increase in an animal’s population (this shouldn’t be confused with ‘eruption‘, which is ‘to suddenly and violently burst out’. And we wouldn’t want to see the owls do that. No one wants to be around an angry owl). 

Snowy Owl USFWS Potters Field Alaska

This fellow was found at a place named Potters Marsh. Seriously.

It seems the owls are here looking for someplace less crowded. We wouldn’t think Northern Canada and the Arctic is particularly crowded, but last year there were many, many lemmings that were born – lemmings are little mouse-like animals that the owls like to eat. There were SO many lemmings, that the owls thought they had it easy, and they laid more eggs, so there would be more baby owls, that would eat more lemmings. It’s all a balance thing. However, now there are so many young owls eating the lemmings, it’s getting too crowded for some of the owls and they’re flying further away then they usually would to find space of their own.

The long flight from the Arctic can be over 1000 miles, so the owls are very tired and hungry. Also they aren’t used to being around humans or cars or power lines or airplanes or other things we see every day, so that adds to their stress. Scientists, researchers and bird-watchers say the owls will probably hang around here until early Spring, then they’ll return home. Remember they’re visitors, so be careful not to disturb any Snowy Owls (or other wildlife) you find, just let them have their space. But if you live anywhere in the northern or central US, particularly the Midwest, you might see one of these rare birds. You can’t miss him, he’s almost all white with a few black markings, and about the size of a small-to-medium dog. Sitting in a tree or other perch, or flying with a five-foot wingspan! In fact, they look very much like a popular owl you may have read about…that lives in a school in England…that has an important job….who I can’t talk about due to strict copyright laws.

Let’s just say these Snowy Owls don’t wear a wig on their head. If you know what I mean.

You can learn more about Snowy Owls both at your local library, and here:

Posted January 15, 2012 by ECOVIA eco-adventure® in SciSun

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