I’ve been following the sightings of Snowy Owls on a birding list for Southeastern Michigan lately, and have had a couple unsuccessful outings trying to find them. Yesterday I finally managed to get to the right location at the right time, and this was my reward. Isn’t he/she beautiful? This one was on the small side, about 12-14″ tall, and it’s hard to know if it’s a female or a juvenile male.
Snowy Owls live in the Arctic tundra, sometimes coming as far south as the northern US in winter. This year has seen an irruption — an unusually high number of birds coming south. The reason for this irruption is thought to be a result of fluctuations in the population of lemmings, their primary food source. Last year lemmings were plentiful, allowing the owls to raise lots of young. This year, with more owls and fewer lemmings, some of the owls have been forced further south to find food. I’ve read reports of some of them dying from starvation because they chose hunting grounds that were unproductive. That’s sad to think about, but that’s the way of nature, I guess.
Enjoy these pictures — I’m not likely to get another view of one of these beauties anytime soon. (Even though I used my 400mm telephoto lens, I still had to crop these somewhat. Not award-winning photos, but they still show how gorgeous this bird was.)