Snowy Owls Flying South: Effects Of Cold Weather
Ellisha Rader Mannering
If you are a bird enthusiast, you may be excited to learn that snowy owls are making their way South due to cold weather. With many of the Northern great lakes frozen and their usual habitats becoming harder to hunt, the owls are traveling to warmer areas hoping for better conditions.
According to the Great Backyard Bird Count, more than 2,500 snowy owls have being reported in 25 states and seven Canadian provinces. The Great Backyard Bird Count allows the public to have a hand in determining where birds are migrating, and can even teach scientists more about bird populations. The event takes place every year and last for four days.
“When tens of thousands of participants around the world share what they’re seeing during the Great Backyard Bird Count, they help scientists achieve something that would otherwise be impossible — documenting where vast numbers of birds are, all across the world, in a very short period of time,” said Janis Dickinson, director of citizen science at the Cornell Lab in Ithaca.
These birds usually live in the Arctic tundra, but with bird populations on the rise, the competition for food has become stronger than ever. The cold weather has caused the owls to move south in large numbers, but it is likely even more will be on their way soon.
Snowy owls aren’t the only birds that were recorded during the count. Black birds, geese, ducks, and starlings were also reported in great numbers during the event. The migrating owl populations are so large that scientists think the owls may be on the verge of an invasion.
Although the invasion will likely only last for a few weeks or until the owls’ natural habitat returns to a condition that better fits their needs, it is possible that the owls could adapt to a new environment and make their new southern home permanent.
What do you think about the snowy owl invasion and the Great Backyard Bird Count?
Image via Wikimedia Commons