Wildlife experts say an unprecedented number of snowy owls have ventured south into the northern U.S. this winter, a spike that may be driven by a dearth of
food in the Arctic. From Seattle to Boston, bird-watchers have spotted the owls — marked by bright white plumage — in rarely seen numbers, Denver Holt, director of the U.S.-based Owl Research Institute, told the New York Times. In late November, Holt said, one owl was even spotted at an airport in Hawaii, the first reported sighting in that state. While the birds typically fly south in large numbers during the late fall — and stick around until March or April — researchers say this year’s movement has been massive. According to Holt, the species had a good breeding year and access to an ample food supply last year, including lemmings, which comprise 90 percent of its Arctic diet. But other ornithologists speculate that lemming populations have crashed recently, although scientists have not confirmed such a decline, the Times reports.