Snowy Owls Flocking to the Northeast [AUDIO]
They are snow white with bright yellow eyes, and these magnificent owls are making their way into New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware in droves.
Snowy owls live in the Arctic, but when their population spikes or when food becomes scarce, the young birds head south, which is why we’re seeing so many of them turning up here.
“In the winter, they generally feed on rodents, rabbits, ducks and gulls. They can take just about anything. In the summer in the Arctic, they generally eat lemmings,” said Pete Dunne, chief communication officer for the New Jersey Audubon Society and director of Cape May Bird Observatory. “One or two snowy owls may arrive every year between November and March. But, it’s very atypical to have masses of birds in the state like we’re seeing now. It’s called an eruption and it’s related to a shortage of prey where these birds normally winter, which is much further north.”
Snowy owls tend to be coastal and they like open areas.
“You may find them in large, open fields. But, the best place to look for snowy owls is at coastal beaches. They will be elevated because they are visual hunters, so they want to stay high so they can see their prey,” said Dunne.
“What you’re looking for is something that looks like a plastic milk jug that is sitting in a high area. If you’re in a coastal area, look at the sea gulls. They tend to position themselves along the beach pretty evenly. Look for an area where there are no gulls and that is probably where the snowy owl is. Gulls have good self-preservation instincts and they don’t want to be near a hungry snowy owl.”
If you come across a snowy owl, don’t try to touch them and don’t push them to try to get them to fly.
“Many people these days have good cameras with good zoom lenses. So, take pictures, but don’t get too close. Just enjoy them, but be respectful,” said Dunne.