Thursday, November 27, 2014
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NJ Birders Stunned by Influx of Snowy Owls from Arctic Regions

New Jersey birders are all aflutter over an influx of snowy owls, Arctic predators that seldom stray into the Garden State but are doing so this winter in numbers that are unprecedented in at least 50 years.

NJ Birders Stunned by Influx of Snowy Owls from Arctic Regions

This photo shows a snowy owl at the Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, in Galloway Township, N.J., on Wednesday Dec. 4, 2013. Birdwatchers traveled from all over to see the owl Wednesday. (AP Photo/The Press of Atlantic City, Vernon Ogrodnek)
This photo shows a snowy owl at the Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, in Galloway Township, N.J., on Wednesday Dec. 4, 2013. Birdwatchers traveled from all over to see the owl Wednesday. (AP Photo/The Press of Atlantic City, Vernon Ogrodnek)

New Jersey birders are all aflutter over an influx of snowy owls, Arctic predators that seldom stray into the Garden State but are doing so this winter in numbers that are unprecedented in at least 50 years.

By December 6 around 20 of the birds had been seen at various locations including Stone Harbor Point, Sandy Hook, and Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, starting in late November.

The count sharply exceeds the state’s typical winter tally of zero to three, and is expected to increase as the winter goes on as more birds venture south from their normal wintering grounds in Canada.

“This is really just the beginning,” said Pete Dunne, director of the Cape May Bird Observatory. “When you get an increase this big, typically birds just continue to move in.”

Dunne, a nationally known birding expert, said the birds’ wide dispersion from their normal territory -- known in ornithological circles as an “irruption” -- was unprecedented in his 50 years of birding.

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