Use of the Forest

Public use of Saginaw Forest is encouraged. Rules for the public's use include (but are not limited to):

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Snowy owl sighting?

I saw an owl flying through Saginaw Forest as I came home tonight. It was too dark to tell much from its silhouette other than it was an owl, and about the right size for it to be a snowy owl. This, of course, could have been me having snowy owls on my mind from the reported sighting almost 1 month ago. Imagine my interest when I saw this news story about snowy owls migrating southward in record numbers:

Apparently, there is an "irruption" of snowy owls. From the USA Today:
Scientists say the likely reason for the explosion is that the owls' chief food source, small animals called lemmings, was abundant last summer, allowing the adults to raise more young. Now, in search of food, young owls are heading farther south.

Although there are a few snowy owls spotted in Michigan every year, "I can tell you this winter is highly unusual," said Karen Cleveland, bird biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.


By early December, there were 60 sightings in 10 lower Michigan counties and 34 in the Upper Peninsula, according to bird experts who track sightings.

New ones are reported almost every day, although some may be the same birds.


In Michigan, the owls mostly eat small voles, mice and rabbits. Some are healthy, but others are weak and stressed. As youngsters, not all are good hunters yet.

The birds are federally protected, and possessing them without a special permit is against the law. People should keep their distance from the birds and be careful not to disturb them, said Cleveland, with the state Department of Natural Resources. Spooking them causes them to use up energy and weaken them. Unless a bird is clearly injured, it shouldn't be disturbed, she said.

Well, the possible presence of snowy owls in the forest could explain why I haven't seen (or heard) too many small rodents around the cabin...

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