Despite their renowned wisdom, snowy owls migrating south are mistaking airport runways for safe habitat, putting themselves, and air travelers, at risk. (National Geographic News)
Use our resources to better understand animal migration patterns.
- The Nat Geo News article calls the influx of snowy owls to the U.S. Northeast and Great Lakes region an “irruption.” What is the difference between an irruption and a migration?
- Read through our activity “Why Animals Migrate,” and apply its essential questions to the Nat Geo News article.
- What do snowy owls need to survive?
- What might cause snowy owls to suddenly migrate south in unusually large numbers?
- Experts think snowy owls are lacking in either food or space. Some experts think there is a shortage of lemmings, the snowy owls’ favorite food source. Others think there has actually been an abundance of lemmings, supporting a huge community of snowy owls. These experts think juvenile snowy owls are flying south to claim their own territory .
- The Nat Geo News article says snowy owls are mistaking airports for the Arctic tundra? Why?
- Just like the tundra, airports are huge, flat, open spaces often covered with snow in the winter.
- The Nat Geo News article says snowy owls at airports can be a threat to people. How?
- The article describes wildlife (usually bird) “strikes, the term used when birds and planes collide or when birds are sucked into plane engines.” Bird strikes can disable engines or even planes, and cause “anywhere from $300 million to $700 million a year in damage to civilian and military aircraft.”
Thanks to one of our favorite Nat Geo veterans, Karen, for the heads-up on this great current-event connection!
- Snowy Owls Make Mysterious Migration (livescience.com)