Snowy Owls Swoop into the U.S.
Birders, grab your binoculars — 2012 may be the year of the snowy owl. This winter, increased numbers of these birds of prey have ventured farther south than usual, say researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
After summers spent hunting and nesting in the northern tundra of the Arctic, snowy owls normally migrate through Canada and the northern U.S. during the winter months to search for food. An abundance of lemmings and small rodents last summer may allow the snowy owl population to grow; now facing greater competition for food, the birds have to travel farther from their usual habitat, which is lucky for bird-watchers.
Snowy owls are impressive hunters, snatching their prey from the ground in open fields or occasionally grabbing fish from the water. They have even been known to catch other birds in mid-flight. One of the largest owls on the planet, they can often be seen perched motionless on outbuildings or telephone posts overlooking open fields. Keep an eye out for them through late April as far south as Texas.
--Cyndy Patrick / image by rpbirdman/istock
Watch a snowy-owl video below the fold.