WESTERLY, R.I. — New England is seeing a large number of snowy owls arrive in the region this winter due to an irregular phenomenon called an irruption.

Avian officials in Rhode Island say there are approximately 18 of the large white owls currently in Rhode Island, with a number seen on Westerly’s shore. The Westerly Sun reports the birds are from a far-north region of Quebec and the current irruption is one of the largest in years.

The reason for the irruption is due to a previous boom in lemming populations — snowy owls’ primary food source — that leads to more owls being hatched, causing owls to fly south in search of more food in subsequent years.

The owls are expected to head back north in March.

Information from: The Westerly Sun, http://www.thewesterlysun.com

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