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More Snowy Owl Sightings in the U.S.

Bird watchers and Harry Potter fans are delighted at the larger than usual number of snowy owl sightings in the lower 48 this year. Snowy Owls are native to the Arctic, but fly south every few years to let us admire them. This winter, they’ve been seen as far south as Hawaii!

“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)


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