Enjoyed you post that is some very cool and relative information on Snowy Owl which I am sure you know has captured the "lets to birding and look for Snowy Owls" gene in all of us birders in Missouri this year, thanks for sharing.
Mike Doyen
Rolla, Mo

Bird by bird I've come to know the earth.
Pablo Neruda.

 From: Richard Rowlett <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask] 
Sent: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 8:08 AM
Subject: Re: Nodaway Valley CA and Snowy Owls

Hello again Zach.  I uncovered another piece of information with 
reference to Nodaway Valley, Snowy Owls, and even you Canadian 
owls spotted in Missouri - Northwest Missourian: Community.  So, it 
seems you're a zoology student at NWMSU (maybe under Dr. Easterla?).  I was 
too in the beginning when I started at NW in 1965, Dr. Easterla in his first 
year there and became my mentor of sorts and in essence introduced me to 
modern day birding which since evolved into a life in the field as a 
marine mammal and seabird biologist which is now winding down as I 
gradually phase into retirement.  An amazing introduction that first Fall 
of 1965, my first Red-breasted Nuthatches and Pine Siskins, neither of which I 
had ever heard of before.  That Fall/Winter of 1965-66 was also an 
epic NW Missouri winter finch year, Red and White-winged Crossbills 
and Common Redpolls, the fun never seemed to stop.  I even flunked out that 
first semester, thanks entirely to the newly discovered world of birds, 
derailing my otherwise 'tornado chasing' career aspiratons, and 
set out to explore and travel every single inch of road in all of Nodaway 
County, ...and did!  I had been bitten by the bug pretty bad.  Don't 
let that happen to you :-))  Having to sit out a semester, drive a 
taxi around Maryville, an interesting and eye-opening experience in and of 
itself :-)), and bird, bird, bird, I came back and the rest is 

Anyway, back to the Missouri Snowy Owls and apparent die off due to 
suspected starvation, perhaps just a little mouse here and there scattered 
over largely vast monocultural farmland isn't really sufficient 
to sustain them for too long, unlike a huge explosive burst in lemming 
populations during an Arctic summer.  Out here in the Pacific Northwest and 
coastal areas of Washington and SW British Columbia, the large numbers of 
Snowy Owls are doing fine, but their prey are almost entirely found in the 
abundance of much larger fare, waterfowl, a variety of ducks, coots, larger 
shorebirds, gulls, and Western Grebes, judging from pellet analysis and 
piles of avian body parts strewn about.  Perhaps that's what 
sustained the congregation at Smithville Lake for as long as it has 
(or did), ...water birds?  During winters where local prey isn't 
critically low and the owls remain on or near their home turf but 
perhaps lemmings difficult to access, I have heard and read of accounts 
that Snowy Owls actually head out to sea, particularly the middle of the largely 
frozen over Bering Sea (Alaska) where most of the world's population of 
Spectacled Eiders mass tightly in the polynyas there and upon which Snowy Owls 
find easy pickings.  Similar reports come from far at sea and open 
ocean in the high North Atlantic where Snowy Owls subsist on seabirds 
and apparently sit around on icebergs (and the occasional transiting 
ship) when in need of something to sit on and rest. 

I look forward to future reportings from Nodaway Valley 
CA (I plan to visit there myself next week sometime), and elsewhere 
from the most extreme NW corner of Missouri (Nodaway, Holt, Andrew, and 
Atchison).  Apart from Squaw Creek NWR, that far corner seems to be kind of 
a 'dead zone' for reports appearing on MOBIRDS given they are so few and far 

Richard Rowlett, formerly Maryville, MO 
currently: Seattle, WA  
The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
ASM Website:
ABA Birding Code of Ethics 

The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
ASM Website:
ABA Birding Code of Ethics