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Snowy owls return to Genesee County

By James Burns


Snowy owls have returned to the area. There are currently an estimated three to five in Genesee County. We did not have any consistent sightings last year like we did a few years ago.

This year’s snowy owl irruption (a sudden sharp increase in the relative numbers of a natural population usually associated with favorable alteration of the environment) was caused by a four-year cycle of lemming births that lead to an abundant food supply for the owls in the Arctic Circle this last spring and summer. This large food supply lead to a larger than normal birth rate of owls. Because there are more snowy owls, the young ones need to go further away in the winter to find uncrowded hunting grounds. This is why we currently have so many birds here in Western New York.

The 2014-2014 snow owl irruption was the largest on record (records have been kept on snowy owls since 1890) Given the number of snowy owls that are currently in NY State, this year may surpass even the 2013-2014 irruption.

If you go out to see this winter's snowy owls or any of the other area raptors, please be courteous and safe when doing so. Respect all rules of the road and private property. If you are observing the birds with binoculars try to stay in your car to use it as a blind. If you are trying to photograph the bird, a lens over 400mm is suggested. Do not approach the bird any closer than 100 yards. If the bird is closer than 100 yards to the road it is considered OK to observe from your car. 





Guy Clark

I saw a snowy owl last week while snowshoeing at Stafford Country Club. The crows were tormenting it every time it flew. It is a beautiful bird.

Jan 8, 2018, 11:12am Permalink

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