(pic from birdsource.org)
Starting in mid November, numerous Snowy Owls have been spotted through out the United States, beyond their usual habitat in the Arctic, including as far south now as Jacksonville, Florida. This is not that unusual an occurrence and can be caused by increased numbers or lack of food.
What is unusual, though, is the numbers of owls reported with over 3400 spotted in the US thus far, with the spike beginning November 15 from 0 to over 2400 and then beyond. Pete Dunne stated that over 20 had been seen in NJ during this irruption up to the end of December.
Please see the ebird site for the range map through the end of
December of 2013:
and explore the data yourself:
This is all very exciting and we had hoped to see one for ourselves last weekend. An owl had been spotted at the Cape May Point State Park on the dune, but was gone when we arrived.
The next day, we visited the 2 mile beach at the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge,
where another owl had been spending some time, but again with no luck, but the NWR was new for us and an excellent place to explore more.