According to the latest eBird update, there's some speculation that
the irruption may be due to a population boom rather than a crash in
food supply.  It's not clear how solid the evidence for this theory
is, however:

http://ebird.org/content/ebird/news/got-snowies

"Since Snowy Owls are appearing in numbers in our area this year, one
would guess that the population of lemmings has crashed, forcing more
birds south than usual. Arctic researchers suggest an interesting
twist, however, that the lemmings this year were at historical
population highs allowing for a very successful breeding season for
Arctic raptors, including Snowy Owls. The resulting population boom
causes overcrowding and competition at typical wintering grounds
pushing inexperienced birds farther south into the Lower 48."


On Fri, Dec 2, 2011 at 11:34 PM, Brian Wisconsin <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Upsetting to hear this again.  Does anyone have any idea why they are being driven this far south and in such poor condition?
>
> Brian
>
>> Date: Fri, 2 Dec 2011 22:46:32 -0600
>> From: [log in to unmask]
>> Subject: [mou-net] Snowy Owl
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>
>> Located another Snowy Owl South of Holdingford in the North part of Stearns
>> County. The bird was severely weakened and died this afternoon. My guess it was
>> emaciated and I will try to get it from the farmer and turn it over to the D.N.R or
>> Holdingford School. It saddens me to see the birds in this state.  I did an article
>> for the Morrison County Record sending out a call to the public to report all
>> Snowy Owls so maybe a few can be helped. I listed a few bird rehabilitation
>> experts names for contact.  Its nice to see the birds but not like this. I think it
>> will take a while for them to rebound from this event. Probably have far less
>> reports for future years.  Frank Gosiak    Little Falls, Morrison County
>>
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-- 
jonner

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