Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wings on Wednesday...Snowy Owl in Kansas

The Winter of 2011-12 has seen a large invasion of Snowy Owls into areas where they haven't been seen in several years, this phenomenon is called an irruption. There have been dozens of reports here in Kansas to the delight of birders and non-birders alike...that is those lucky enough to see them. It's believed the cause for this Winter's irruption was a population boom of the owls this past breeding season due to an abundance of lemmings (Snowy Owl's preferred food). Since the mature owls aggressively chase juveniles from their hunting grounds many of the younger owls have headed south in search of food, far from their normal range in the Arctic regions. The owl in the photos was seen in Dickinson County Kansas, southwest of Abilene, on January 14th. Apparently it's been in the same area since early December, it was very tame and was unfazed by traffic on the road (in the third photo cars were passing by about 10 feet away). While several of the owls have perished, including one here in Washington County, this one seems to be a survivor, hope it makes it back home when Winter passes.

The owl seemed quite comfortable on top of a power pole

The owl sat only a few feet from the road as vehicles passed

As it sat in a milo stubble the owl squinted looking into the sun