The Canadian province of British Columbia is experiencing a peak in sightings of snowy owls, and there's evidence the birds are fleeing their normal Arctic habitat because of a lack of food, reports CBC News. Seven dead owls may have starved to death in B.C.
Provincial wildlife biologist Doug Wilson said they aren't certain why the owls have come south, but it happens on a four- or five-year cycle that is likely tied to changes in the Arctic rodent population.
He said this year the lemming population may have crashed, leaving no food, or the rodents may have overproduced, creating a population boom of young owls.
"Maybe there was a super-abundance of lemmings, which meant that every nest in the Arctic produced all their young instead of some dying as would naturally happen from lack of food, and that huge crop of young birds have been forced out," speculates Wilson.
Read more at CBC News: Biologist believes 2012 'biggest year ever' for snowy owls in B.C.