Snowy owls flocking to New Jersey

- Look up at the sky in New Jersey and you may see something you never saw before. Snowy owls are making their way to New Jersey.

At an observation point early Wednesday morning, someone saw a snowy owl flying along the beach. For most people in New Jersey, that would be considered a once in a lifetime event.

Richard Crossly saw one this week in Cape May. 

"We looked up and there it was flying over. What did you think?  Always excited, right," he said. 

One snowy owl was found at Island Beach State Park in New Jersey earlier this week. Scientists put a tracking device on it. The snowy owl was then released by Erin Rawls with the Cape May Bird Observatory. The bird was one of two that were fitted with a device to study their movements. The data is coming in by cell phone.

Most years, maybe a couple Snowy Owls make it here; however, this year there will dozens, traveling south more than 2,000 miles. That's thanks to the lemming, which is the the rodent they eat.

"There was an abundance of lemmings in the arctic. They had a lot of kids, and those kids are now wandering down into the U.S. in record numbers,' Michael Lanzone said.

So if you're on the lookout, now is the time. The snowy owls only make appearances like this maybe a couple times a decade, and they don't stick around very long. The bird you see today next year could be a thousand miles away.

Snowy owl photo courtesy of Michael O'Brien

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