So I started 2014 off with a bang. I did not get out on the first but I spent most of the day Friday running around Dakota County, where I live. With the cold front that hit this past weekend we have a good influx of snowy owls (top). Snowy owls are usually found around the arctic circle but in years where there is a lack of food or they have a productive breeding year owl migrate south into southern Canada and the US. The northeast US has been experiencing a snowy invasion for a while now but it started out kind of slow here and just kicked in the past week. I found 4 different owls yesterday and it is estimated that we could have 7 or more just in this area. My second bird is another arctic visitor. The long-tailed ducks breed in pretty much the same range as the snowies do. Most long-tailed ducks migrate to the east or west coast of the US during the winter. For the past few years though we have had one or two that winter at the confluence of the St Croix and Mississippi Rivers. The water there usually stays open unless it gets really cold and the long-tailed duck usually join with flocks of other diving ducks, such as common goldeneye and mergansers, and fish the icy water. I hope that my next set of birds is this good but it is going to be hard to beat this pair.