December 19, 2011

Watch for Snowy Owls in Kansas, Missouri this winter

Snowy owls - known to Harry Potter fans and birders alike - are making an appearance in Kansas and Missouri this fall and winter.

The owls, which reside most of the year in Canadian tundra and arctic environments, periodically move south in search of food. Their main food source, lemmings, is more scarce this year. At least 8 of the two-foot-tall iconic birds have been spotted in Kansas so far.

The public is encouraged to let the KU Natural History Museum know if a snowy owl is noticed in their area. The museum has provided a gallery of images of snowy owls for reference.

Typically, adult male snowy owls are all white, and adult females have feathers that are "barred" with brown tips. Immature males and females both start out with the barred feathers, but the males become more white as they age. Another way to tell determine sex is to look for white feathers at the back of the head, which can indicate that the bird is male.

If you spot such a bird and have the opportunity to take photos of it, please fill in this contact form to let ornithologists know about the sighting. Thank you!

 


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The Biodiversity Institute is home to about 60 graduate students and 30 research scientists and curators. They participate in field expeditions to all seven continents and represent areas such as entomology, ornithology, paleontology, parasitology and herpetology. As the authors of this blog, they share their experiences and adventures in collections-based biological research all over the world.

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