Snowy owls have been seen in Washington and Nemaha Counties. Snowy owls are about 2 feet tall with a wingspan that can reach up to nearly 5 feet long. And a lack of food in their natural tundra habitat in Canada is driving them south to Kansas and Missouri.
Mark Robbins, a Kansas University ornithologist, is hoping that if people spot an owl they’ll take pictures and send them to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s particularly interested in getting a glimpse of the birds from the back, especially the area near the nape of the neck and tail. He’s trying to use the coloring and banding present to determine the age and sex of the birds found here.
The birds are here, he said, because of a natural cycle in their food supply. The owls typically eat a type of rodent called a lemming, or vole. An unusually large number of lemmings led to an unusually large number of owls reproducing. This led to the situation of today, with fewer lemmings, and owls forced to head south to find food.
The birds are easier to spot for several reasons. They’re white and unlike many owls, they’re active in the daytime. They don’t typically roost in trees, and can be found sitting on fence posts, on the ground or, occasionally, on a telephone pole. Photos and sightings may also be reported at KNDYradio.com or KNDY on facebook.