A snowy owl (Nyctea scandiaca) is perched on a bare winter tree Damon Point in Ocean Shores, Washington, with the Olympic mountains in the background. Snowy owls, which spend the summer in the northern circumpolar region north of 60 degrees latitude, have a typical winter range that includes Alaska, Canada and northern Eurasia. Every several years, for reasons still unexplained, the snowy owls migrate much farther south in an event known as an irruption. During the 2011-2012 irruption, Ocean Shores on the Washington coast was the winter home for an especially large number of snowy owls. Snowy owls tend to prefer coastal and plains areas, which most resemble the open tundra that serves as their typical home. The owl shown here is a young bird; snowy owls become almost entirely white as they age, though females retain some of the darker coloration.