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"The sudden influx of these birds, called an ‘irruption,’ may be the first wave. More Snowy Owls are poised to head south looking for food and will be attracted to wide-open expanses, such as airports, because they resemble their native tundra. ... More than likely these Snowy Owls are moving south from the Arctic because of a shortage of their favorite food up north – lemmings – or because of a bumper crop of young. We can expect them to stick around through early spring before they head back to the Arctic."
Kevin McGowan, a biologist at the Cornell University Lab or Ornithology, says the largest-ever influx of Arctic Snowy Owls into the Northeast and Great Lakes states may be only the first wave.