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An open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond

Snowy Owl predictions stand

Reports of the predicted irruption of Snowy Owls in Minnesota continue. The birds are supposed to be moving south out of Arctic Canada. Of states adjoining Minnesota, Wisconsin has more than a dozen sightings. Few reports have come from the Dakotas. The owls are expected to scatter through the Midwest into the East Coast. Right now, states east of Wisconsin are seeing more of these birds. Email comments on owls seen in Minnesota have been scarce. Closest to Minneapolis was a Snowy Owl found in Champlin on Nov. 20. Of course, reports refer only to birds seen. 

We don't need snow to have Snowy Owls. The heavy black barring means this bird is a juvenile.

Collecting bird eggs once was an active hobby

Researching an article about Great Horned Owls I found a paper published in 1938 in the Wilson Bulletin, an ornithological journal. It discussed nesting habits of this owl species. Much of the data in the report was gathered by persons collecting eggs. Collections of bird eggs, thankfully now illegal, once was an active hobby, known as oology. One egg might do, but entire clutches of eggs were preferred by some collectors, the assumption being that the birds would re-nest, no harm done. The journal article also offered information on how long the incubating bird would stay away if flushed off the nest. Someone would climb to the nest to flush the bird so this question could be answered. Many answers were gained by purposely disturbing the bird one way or another. It was in the name of research, I suppose, but behavior really unthinkable today. 

Below, a Herring Gull, her nest and eggs. These eggs would have been easily collectable.

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