46 Hours in Ocean Shores with Snowy Owls

Elston and Jackline Hill

January 2013
Below are links to pictures from the trip. If these pages are too large for your computer screen, click Control  and the
Minus Sign at the same time
to make the content fit on your screen.  I tried to make the pictures as big as
possible to improve the quality.
Thousands of the Snowy Owl birds, which stand 2 feet tall with 5-foot wingspans, have migrated to the United States this
winter and last winter.

A certain number of the iconic owls fly south from their Arctic breeding grounds each winter but rarely do so many venture so
far away even amid large-scale, periodic southern migrations known as irruptions.

The phenomenon is likely linked to lemmings, a rodent that accounts for 90 percent of the diet of snowy owls during
breeding months that stretch from May into September.

An especially plentiful supply of lemmings likely led to a population boom among owls that resulted in each breeding pair
hatching as many as seven offspring. That compares to a typical clutch size of no more than two. Greater competition for
food in the Far North by the booming bird population may have then driven mostly younger, male owls much farther south
than normal last year and this year.

Snowy owl populations are believed to be in an overall decline, possibly because a changing climate has lessened the
abundance of vegetation like grasses that lemmings rely on.

When Snowy Owls migrate south, they look for areas that are much like their habitat in the Arctic without trees.

To get to Damon Point, start your walk just south of the RV campground at Ocean Shores. Head east to Protection Island,
across a narrow spit that connects the mainland to your destination. At one time a road connected the two, but one too many
storms and the growing spit has made it a thing of the past.

Damon Point in Ocean Shores, Washington is a grassy, sandy area with lots of drift logs, an attractive location for the Snowy
Owls to migrate. Jackie and I spent 46 hours at Damon Point viewing the owls. At one point we could see nine owls flying
around us.

Click the first link below to view our encounters in chronological order: There are links at the bottom of each
page to the next page in the series.