Notes from a Snowy Owl Invasion

Notes from a Snowy Owl Invasion

The majestic birds of the far north are traveling as far south as Bermuda.

By Kenn Kaufman
Published: 12/04/2013

Snowy owl irruptions
Optional caption text
The images to the left are from searches on eBird, the online database of bird sightings run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society. They show snowy owl sightings for November only, for 2009 (a non-invasion year), 2011 (the last big invasion), and 2013. (Others are found later in the winter, of course, but these are restricted to November to allow comparison to this year.) Each marker represents a single location, but doesn't indicate anything about numbers of individuals. Notice how this year's flight is shifted sharply to the east, including observations on Newfoundland and Bermuda.

If you are lucky enough to see one of these majestic birds, please observe it from a respectful distance. Many of the snowy owls moving south are inexperienced young birds, already stressed by hunger, and it may hurt their chances of survival if they are repeatedly approached and flushed by humans. Snowy owls favor very open habitats, such as fields, dunes, and marshes, so it should be possible to get good views of them from a long distance away.

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Kenn Kaufman

Type: Author | From: Audubon Magazine


I agree, but they have now

I agree, but they have now stopped shooting them, because of the outrage!

Because of the outcries of us

Because of the outcries of us bird-lovers, the PA has decided to do a catch and release with the Snowys, although they already killed at least two of
these magnificent creatures, unfortunately.

Has anyone suggested falcons

Has anyone suggested falcons to keep the air space clear, especially at NYC

This already done at JFK and

This already done at JFK and other major airports.

I too went to scour the

I too went to scour the landscape on the Southern Avalon Peninsula in search of snowy owls just before it snowed which presented optimim conditions to spot owls on the barrens. All together, I counted 74 owls of which only one was an adult from my observation. I saw one owl which didn't look to be in good condition as it appeared to be in a weakened condition. I left it alone but I thought it would not survive. There is usually a healthy population of meadow voles in open barrens in this area. It would be interesting to know what the vole population is this year. Any suggestions on how I might get this information?

2 years ago North Dakota had

2 years ago North Dakota had tons of the snowy owl. I have many pictures from that year. They aer still a federal bird so therefore they are protected.

We've had 6-8 reported on the

We've had 6-8 reported on the birders' listserve here in southwestern Michigan in the last few weeks.

I'm surprised that the

I'm surprised that the article didn't mention (or I missed it) that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PA) ordered lethal control of Snowy Owls at JFK International Airport and that the Audubon Society strongly advocated in their behalf such that instead a non-lethal trap, band, and relocation program has instead been implemented.

Thanks, Mary. Here's an

Thanks, Mary. Here's an Audubon post about the snowy owl shootings:
The Editors

Someone should stop the

Someone should stop the shooting of these beautiful birds at the NY airport~horrible. There has to be another way

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