Thursday, November 13, 2008

Snowy alert

There have been several reports of Snowy Owls in northern Ohio during the last few days, including a couple in our immediate area, although neither of the latter two birds could be refound. Reports from nearby states and nearby areas of southern Canada indicate that this year's southward flight of Snowy Owls will be much larger than usual. The causes are still being debated -- it's possible that there was a high population of lemmings in the eastern Canadian Arctic this summer and that the population crashed abruptly during the fall; generally it's hunger that forces these big Arctic predators southward.

Whatever the reason, it's a good idea to keep an eye out for these birds. This is a species of open country, and in our area it's usually in farm areas or along the lakeshore, not in forested patches. If you find one, please let other birders know, but please remember that the owl is probably stressed by lack of food -- we should watch from a respectful distance rather than trying to approach too closely.

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