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Snowy Owl irruption…underway? Again?!

Posted on Nov 10, 2014

Yes, my friends, here we are again! Is a Snowy Owl irruption into the southern parts of Canada and the lower 48 states already underway? The answer certainly looks to be a firm yes considering recent list serv reports. The eBird Snowy Owl map below highlights sightings from August 1, 2014 through November 9, 2014. It also says yes…

Snowy Owl eBird map November 8 2014

Remember that sightings in the last 30 days are in bright orange. Look how far south some birds have already been spotted! Now let us remember that a certain number of Snowy Owls move to the south every winter. If you live near a major migratory corridor or are at a coastal hotspot like Boston’s Logan Airport you can possibly see them annually. However, looking at last winter’s irruption alone, with staggeringly high numbers of birds pouring into southern North America, one has to infer that without a disastrous plight for a sizable percentage of the species a higher than average population likely still remains. That would mean birds will be looking for hunting areas here again.

I cannot seem to find any reliable source on breeding success, or lack thereof, for the Snowy Owl in the 2014 season, nor have I seen anything convincing on lemming populations in North America during the past spring and summer. We will have to wait and see how the potential irruption pans out in the next several weeks. One thing is certain – we cannot record the birds if you do not report them. Sending them out via email on list servs is an enjoyable social exercise but the data will go into the information void and depths of the Internet. Please use eBird to enter any Snowy Owls you find, or for that matter every bird you can. That way we will be able to analyze and record what we all hope will be another exciting winter season.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator