Snowy Owls Have Invaded the Lower 49

B. McPherson
Snowy owls are visiting from the Arctic.

Snowy owls have been  spotted on Vancouver Island and points south. This has the bird watchers all aflutter as these beautiful birds belong in the Arctic. They are adapted for life on the tundra with their thick feather coats and their white spotted camouflage.

I haven’t seen any of the interlopers as of yet, but they have appeared during the day and in unexpected places. Vancouver Island is mostly snow free through the winter and trees are abundant. This seems to confuse the birds as they are not used to trees. They have even been sighted perching on the railings of the ferry that plies between the mainland and the island.

This is the second year that snowies have been showing up this far south. Last year large numbers flew south across the continent. It was surmised that they were looking for food. There had been a couple of good years for the lemming population in the Arctic and the snowies benefitted from an abundant food supply. They successfully raised larger than normal broods. Now those youngsters are competing for food and territory and finding the pickings pretty slim.

Some of the snowbirds have not fared well on the Island. Rescue groups have been receiving distressed birds that are starving. The food supply is different here and competition is ongoing. Those birds in residence are not happy to see another at their food larder.

News reports from the city of Seattle state that snow owls have occupied niches within the city. They have been observed attacking shore birds and in turn, being mobbed by irate crows that want nothing to do with a predator in their midst.

There’s always something new that Mother Nature has to show us.

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