Photo by Sandy Milliken
In the previous blogspot, I posted a rather pathetic picture I had taken of a Snowy Owl in the Holland Marsh. No sooner had I done that, than I came across the remarkable photo above. It was taken by Sandy Milliken, of Post Falls, Idaho, when she was visiting Boundary Bay's driftwood beaches, south-west of Vancouver, British Columbia. There are actually eleven Snowy Owls in this picture and it illustrates powerfully what is being called by birding experts an 'unbelievable' irruption of Snowies this winter, in southern Canada and the northern American states. Thousands of these grand-looking birds are being seen from coast-to-coast. One writer has called the irruption an 'owlapalooza'. Reports say that recent previous irruptions occurred in 2005, 2006 and 2007, in different parts of the continent, but they were nothing compared to what is happening in 2012. The question I find myself asking is this 'big year' a fluke and future irruptions will return to normal levels and patterns, or is this the 'new normal' as global warming changes our climate. The irruptions are caused by failed lemming populations ( the owls favourite food) in the far north which force the Snowies to head south in the winter. Below are two more recent pictures of Snowy Owls. The upper one was taken in the American mid-west and the lower one was taken in Michigan.