Hey, that’s this year!
And what a spectacular year for snowy owls it has been…with reports across the northeastern US, an exciting chatter has built up amongst birders. This beautiful and charismatic bird is normally a rare sight!
An irruption is a rapid and unusual increase in the abundance and distribution of a species. The citizen science project, eBird, has made bird irruptions visible through a massive amount of data collected by bird lovers nationwide.
Many believe that this current snowy owl irruption is likely due to a boom in prey populations last year, which supported larger clutches of baby owls than usual.
There is also an interesting discussion going on about shooting snowy owls at airports. For example, JFK airport in New York began shooting owls when they became a runway hazard (the owls like airports because they have large open spaces where rodents are plainly visible).
And if you haven’t read it, you should check out this hilarious post on an interaction between a snowy owl and a local raptor.