Jim Robbins writes in today’s NY Times that snowy owls are showing up where they have never been seen before (Hawaii!). Bird lovers are thrilled, and scientists are puzzled.
“From coast to coast across the northern United States, a striking number of snowy owls have been swooping onto shorelines and flying over fields this winter, delighting bird-watchers and stirring speculation about the cause of the spike. …
“Why so many more of the birds are showing up is largely a mystery, [Denver Holt, director of the Owl Research Institute in Charlo, Mont.] said. ‘We do know they had a really good breeding year, and there was plenty of food last year,’ he said. Instead of no chicks, or one or two, a single nest will produce five, six, seven or more fledglings in a good breeding year, he said.
“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.’ ” Read more here.
WordPress blogger Photo Nature Blog captures birds really well. Here is one of a snowy owl getting ready to take off.
The owl below is from the National Geographic.