Thursday, November 06, 2008

Snowy Owl Irruption

Snowy Owls are already being reported across Wisconsin; Ashland, Appleton, Horicon, Milwaukee, and Oshkosh. It looks like a veritable irruption is underway. This phenomenon is often correlated to a crash in northern rodent populations, driving these supremely beautiful Arctic visitors further south in pursuit of better hunting prospects. Be mindful that some of the owls that make it this far south can be in poor shape. In the spirit of good birding ethics, err on the side of caution by giving them plenty of room when viewing or photographing them.

Do not closely approach or flush a snowy owl that's roosting during the day. Resting up after such an arduous journey along with a few meals can make the difference between life and death for these birds. Sadly, by the time they show obvious signs of failing health, it's probably too late to save them. Keep in mind that these owls are creatures of habit and will often roost in the same spot during the day from one day to the next. What may appear to be a sick owl is most likely one that's simply resting. If you're unsure, contact a wildlife rehabber.

© 2008 Mike McDowell

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