Holy Hedwig, What the Heck is Happening?
Come now, surely you can’t be such a muggle that you haven’t noticed. Owls! Owls everywhere! Dozens of owls, clutches of owls, whole parliaments of owls. And it’s not just any type of owl. They’re bright white, over two feet tall, and active by day instead of by night. They’ve been seen everywhere, barnstorming through Binghamton, massing in Missoula, and chilling in Chicago. It’s a veritable blizzard of owls. Merlin’s Beard! What sort of wicked wizarding warning is this?
The nation has been invaded by snowy owls. Up until now, if you wanted to see a snowy owl, you’d have to travel north of the Arctic Circle. But for some reason, this year has seen a massive influx of snowy owls into the Lower 48. Ornithologists refer to it as an “irruption” of their normal breeding and roosting habits. Some believe that the population of the owls’ primary food source – Arctic lemmings – had a large spike, followed by a crash, resulting in a similar spike in snowy owls now left with nothing to eat. No one knows for sure.
But whatever the reason, there’s no doubt that snowy owls are everywhere, and it seems like a lot of fun. Folks are coming out in droves to get a look at these Hedwig look-alikes, causing snowy owl traffic jams across the country. However, snowy owls are the largest owls in North America, weighing up to 4 pounds, and can cause some serious damage. At Logan Airport in Boston, 21 snowy owls have been caught and removed. One snowy owl even managed to make it all the way to Honolulu Airport, whereupon air traffic officials freaked out. It was the first and only snowy owl ever sighted in Hawaii. And they shot it.
Thankfully, some folks have chosen a wiser course. A joint project of the Cornell Ornithology Lab and the Audubon Society has launched a website where anyone can submit a snowy owl sighting or get help dealing with one. Scientists will analyze the response data and try to determine if this is all just a biological anomaly or a function of global, um, warming, er, I mean, “The Evil Planetary Condition Which Shall Not Be Named.”
So if you see an exhausted, hungry or wounded snowy owl, and you’re a wizard, grab your wand, concentrate, point in its direction, and yell clearly and firmly, “Repairo!” For the rest of us muggles, we can’t do magic, but we can use the power of the Internet.