A snowy owl in New Jersey

In keeping with the recent raptor theme, here’s a neat article on a fascinating development taking place right now in the northern United States. Birders call it the snowy owl irruption.

Translation: a lot of snowy owls.

Unless you’ve been to the Arctic or have simply been lucky, you likely have only ever seen a snowy owl on the big screen next to Harry Potter. This year, however, folks across the country from Boston to Seattle – even Hawaii- are seeing snowy owls in record numbers. (I recently saw one near a reservoir in northern New Jersey – my second in four years – and needless to say it was truly an incredible sight.) Estimates place the number of snowy owls now wintering in the US at a few thousand – far exceeding the numbers usually found here at this time of year.

Read on to learn what may be behind this influx, where they can be seen, and how many owls it takes to make an “owl jam” in Missouri.