Naturalist’s Corner – Snowy Owls!

Naturalist’s Corner – Snowy Owls!

Posted November 20, 2019

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Photo of a snowy owl in flight, courtesy of Mass Audubon.

 

Snowy owls are birds with mostly white feathers, though they have a black bar pattern. They live in the Arctic regions in North America, Europe, and Asia. Snowy owls are an irruptive migratory species, which means that they migrate when there is a change in resources in their normal range. Their migration is typically caused by increased competition within the species and a decreased supply of food, which stems from an increase in population. Snowy owls eat small birds, fish, and small mammals like lemmings. The population is able to grow rapidly when there is an abundance of food available, so when the lemming population booms approximately every four years, the snowy owl population thrives. When the population gets too big, the birds need to find a new place to live and feed, which causes them to migrate south outside of their typical habitat.

Massachusetts falls just outside of their typical winter range, so keep an eye out for them as they start to migrate to this area for the winter! The best place to see them is in an open area near the coast.

For more information on snowy owls, visit the Mass Audubon website below:
https://www.massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/blue-hills-trailside-museum/our-work/snowy-owl-project

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