However, while tourist dollars are flying into the pockets of locals where owls have been spotted, some of the birds are in really poor condition. One emaciated owl dropped dead in a farmer’s Wisconsin field. Fortunately, most of the owls seem to be thriving.
This unusual migration is likely linked to lemmings, a small fuzzy rodent that is infamously known for catapulting itself off high cliffs. Lemmings account for about 90 percent of the snowy owl diet during the breeding months of May through September. Last year, the lemming population exploded and therefore there was plenty of food for the owls, which resulted in the owls having their own population boom. The typical clutch of the snowy owl is one or two eggs, while this year a breeding pair was blessed with as many as seven offspring. Obviously, this created greater competition for resources as the chicks matured. Thus, it is hypothesized that the younger birds, primarily males, were driven farther south than usual.
Other experts are pointing an accusing finger at climate change.
However, the reality is, even the bird experts do not know exactly why so many of the snow white owls have moved south. ”There’s a lot of speculation…we really don’t know,” Holt said.