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Scholars Day: April 9, 2014

Changes in the Diets of Snowy Owls During Irruption Events

Though the foraging behaviors of Snowy Owls (Bubo scandiacus) on their breeding grounds are well known, the species’ diet on its wintering ground is poorly understood. Every few years, Snowy Owl populations increase and disperse into the northern United States in large numbers. When they arrive in Great Lakes region, the owls venture into different habitats than those in the tundra. During the Snowy Owl irruption events into the Great Lakes region in the 2011-12 and 2013-14 winters, the presenter identified locations of owls and examined remains of their prey. The presenter also dissected owl pellets and documented the owls’ primary prey items. It was found that owls preferred waterfowl, especially American Coot (Fulica americana), and Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola). The abundance of waterfowl during irruption events is a major change in the species’ diets, and exemplifies the species’ adaptation to wintering in different environments.

Please note that presentation times are approximate. If you are interested in attending sessions with multiple presentations, please be in the room at the start of the session.
Presenter: Gregory Lawrence (Undergraduate Student)
Topic: Environmental Science
Location: 218 Hartwell
Time: 9:30 am Session I