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Headwick's snowy owl friends head south

Snowy owls irruption

It looks like a scene from Harry Potter in some parts of the country as snowy owls are paying visits. Could one be Headwick?

This is an exciting time for those wanting to see a snowy owl without having to pay a visit to the Arctic tundra or Canada. These majestic birds are “irrupting” from their northern homes. Normally snowy owls nest in the Arctic tundra and migrate south throughout Canada during winter.

Snowy owls are irruptive specie that some years winter far outside their usual range. One snowy owl is spending this season in northern Oklahoma. In Kansas there have been reports of at least fifty of the birds.

Irruptions tend to be cyclic. Reasons for irruptions include an overpopulation that causes the birds to look for food farther south. Another theory is a loss of food supply on their normal wintering ground.

In the case of snowy owls, their main food source is lemmings. This rodent population seems to be set for a four year cycle. When lemming numbers are down, snowy owls move farther south to find food that includes rodents and birds.

These Arctic dwellers are well adapted to their environment. Their feathers are white because they have no pigment. This leaves air spaces in the feathers to help insulate them from harsh weather. Their feet are also feathered.


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