Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Snowy Owls

We are experiencing an irruption year for Snowy Owls.  Those who are authorities on this matter inform us that sometimes irruptions (which are unusual movements of more Northern birds into more Southern territory) happen because of a crash in the population of their target prey species.  However, this year we are informed it was a bumper crop year for voles up in the arctic, and as a result there was an unusually higher number of predators that were fledged.  Now that winter is here, the younger, less experienced birds are getting pushed out of the territory which now can not support the extra numbers.  Thus, we have the opportunity to see what are otherwise rare birds for our area.

I found out about this event from Birdchick.  Here is a link to a listserve that is tracking sitings.    eBird   You can check to see if you are close to one of the hot spots.  I happen to be close to one . . . the La Crosse Airport.  Rich and I had reason to go to La Crosse today, so we left early, and searched for snowy owls.  We found one . . . . almost at the edge of my optics.
I messed with my spotting scope and got only one 'ok' photo.  Otherwise, we moved to 3 locations, with the last finding some professional bird watchers who let me peek through their better scope.  I got to see him really well, face details, and watched him preen some.  Pretty neat!
This was the best my equipment could do.  Sorry it's not clearer . . . but hey . . . normally we don't see them at all!!

Here are a few links to articles in various La Crosse publications:


Oh . . . and a really nice video!

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