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Monday, January 23, 2012

Hedwig's cousins flood the country

In my weekly news recap a couple of weeks ago, I made note of the irruption of Snowy Owls particularly in the Northwest of the country. In fact, these birds of the near Arctic are pouring south this winter in record numbers. They are being seen all across the northern tier of states right into the Mid-West.

At least one of the birds even made it all the way to Hawaii! It turned up at an airport there and airport officials shot it because they were afraid it would interfere with air traffic. Honestly, the bird flew all the way from the Arctic region; couldn't they have trapped it instead of shooting it? The continuing ignorance of humans about the natural world is so profound as to be appalling.

Elsewhere, the birds are being met by joyous birders hoping for one glimpse of the beautiful white owls. White animals always seem to evoke special human interest, even among non-birders, perhaps because it's a somewhat unusual color in the wild. There is also the added interest among people of a certain age for Snowy Owls because of Hedwig, Harry Potter's owl.

Scientists, of course, are busily speculating and trying to figure out just what is causing this unusually large irruption. Apparently, the birds had a particularly good breeding season last year. Food was plentiful and more chicks than normal survived. Now, it may be difficult for all those birds to find food during the harsher winter weather and so they are having to disperse farther south.

So, keep your eyes peeled. If a Snowy Owl could make it all the way to Hawaii, surely one could make it to Southeast Texas. If it does, let us hope that it meets a kinder fate here.


  1. Great post. So disheartening...after the LONG migration of the Snowy owl it was met by a horrible fate. I would love to see one of these creatures and would welcome it in my backyard.

  2. I find it utterly appalling that anyone under any circumstances would shoot a Snowy Owl, Rambling Wren, but, as I say, there is no accounting for human ignorance.

  3. I find it heartbreaking that the owl was killed after having made it all that way. People make me sick!!!!!!

  4. The cure for such ignorance is education. I hope those responsible have now been educated, Jayne.