Reports from tens of thousands of bird-counting volunteers show a southern
invasion of Arctic-dwelling snowy owls has spread to 25 US states, and frigid
cold is causing unusual movements of waterfowl.
Results are still coming in from the four-day annual Great Backyard Bird
Count sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society
and Bird Studies Canada. Sponsors say the event drew
participants from a record 127 countries, surpassing last year's 110. Most were
from the US and Canada.
Preliminary results show more than 2 500 snowy owls being reported in 25
states and seven Canadian provinces.
the birdsGreat Backyard Bird Count
The big white owls are in the midst of a sudden invasion of a region in
large numbers, which scientists attribute to a population boom in the birds and
a scarcity of their preferred food, lemmings, in their normal range on the
The Great Backyard Bird Count is designed to engage the public in nature
study as well as help scientific research.
"When tens of thousands of participants around the world share what
they're seeing during the Great Backyard Bird Count, they help scientists
achieve something that would otherwise be impossible, documenting where vast
numbers of birds are, all across the world, in a very short period of
time," said Janis Dickinson, director of citizen science at the Cornell
Lab in Ithaca.
The annual backyard count, now in its 17th year, is open to anyone.
Participants observe and record birds in their backyard or any other location
for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count and submit the
Anyone can view the results and explore trends in bird distribution and
numbers online at www.ebird.org.
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( Picture: Snowy owl from Shutterstock)