By Molly Daly

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — In the past few weeks, big white owls from the Arctic have been turning up in the Eastern U.S., including the Delaware Valley.

Researchers with the nonprofit that studies the birds and then outfits with GPS trackers says it may mean a blizzard of Snowy Owls is on the way.

Project Snowstorm co-founder Scott Weidensaul says it was the Snowy Owl invasion four years ago that inspired the group’s formation.

This year, “They’re just all over the place right now — Montgomery County, Lebanon County, Dauphin County, Susquehanna County, all the way up to Presque Isle on Lake Erie, all along the Jersey Coast,” Weidensaul said.

He says the apparent increase in owls, called an irruption, is a natural phenomenon resulting from a four-year peak in Northern Quebec in the breeding cycle of a little rodent on the birds’ summer menu.

welch2c lanzone2c madden c2a9david lapuma Snowy Owls Invade The Delaware Valley

Island Beach State Park manager Charlie Welch, raptor biologist Mike Lanzone and New Jersey State Park office Mike Madden prepare to release “Lenape,” one of two snowy owls tagged with high-tech tracking devices at the park Wednesday. (©David LaPuma)


“Lots of Snowy Owls feeding on lots of lemmings, and having lots of babies, and the owls coming south this winter appear to mostly be young birds on their first migrations,” said Weidensaul.

It’s an opportunity for Project Snowstorm deepen their understanding of the big white raptors.

And, for regular folks,

“You’re not gonna see a polar bear walking down Broad Street, but these Snowy Owls coming down from the Arctic bring a little bit of the Arctic south with them every year,” Weidensaul said.

You can follow the birds they’re tracking at projectsnowstorm.org

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