Ice conditions on the Great Lakes — all that blue and green is open water, a far cry from the past two winters. (NOAA CoastWatch)
If there’s been a theme that was missing so far this winter — one that had been nearly constant in previous years — it’s been ice.
Snowy owls love ice. For example, researchers with Laval University in Quebec (including our SNOWstorm colleague Jean-François Therrien from Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania) have documented how some adult snowies leave the breeding grounds in autumn and actually head north, not south, spending the winter on the frozen Arctic Ocean.
We’ve seen the same attraction to ice with our tagged birds, especially on the Great Lakes. The past two winters, many of our owls spent weeks at a stretch on the ice, presumably hunting waterbirds in open-water areas, much as those Arctic-wintering owls do farther north, preying on sea ducks in permanent open-water leads known as polynyas.
Read the full article here: http://www.projectsnowstorm.org/posts/ice-owls/