There’s been a lot of buzz (sorry about the mixed metaphor there) in Connecticut about the irruption (again, that’s the snazzy birder’s word for birds that visit on an irregular basis) of the snowy owls. This year there have been so many and they are just all over the place–supposedly they’ve even been spotted at the Hartford landfill!
There was also a hue and cry when the New York Port Authority added them to the “kill list” (along with various other “nuisance” birds like Canada geese, crows, and pigeons at its airports. Thankfully that order has since been rescinded.
The snowy owls are visiting supposedly because their populations have soared in their native habitat, the Arctic. Thus it cannot support such a huge population, and the younger owls are forced to go further away to find food.
Owls of any sort are birds of prey. They hunt smaller mammals like mice and voles–just the sorts of things we don’t want roaming in our homes and gardens. They will also eat squirrels, moles, skunks and rabbits–also things most folks don’t want around–as well as insects.
The habitat around my home isn’t suitable for seeing snowy owls but every morning, on the pre-dawn dog walk, I hear the great horned owl hooting. It’s such a lovely sound.
I’m not sure if it’s the same owl but I do know we have had a great horned in the neighborhood for many years. After the October snowstorm in 2011, its tree must have come down, because it hooted day and night from an oak just outside our bedroom. It was clearly distressed and it was upsetting to listen to.
If this is the same owl, it has settled back into a routine with a new tree, obviously. I’m very grateful.