It has been a weird year for the birds.
The Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL) is taking in a record-breaking number of injured birds and the snowy owls are back in Boundary Bay Regional Park for the second year in a row.
"I put it down to food, and the weather has been so weird," said Bev Day, executive director of the East Ladner rehabilitation centre.
So far this year the society has seen 452 injured or starving birds of prey and is anticipating that number to exceed 500 by the end of the year. The previous record was 389 birds.
"You can put it down as it has been a bad year for the birds or people know more about us and know where to bring the birds," said Day.
Birds are brought to OWL for a number of reasons, including starvation, interspecies fighting, getting hit by vehicles and even those that are misplaced because their habitats have been destroyed.
The reappearance of snowy owls in Boundary Bay for a second straight year has bird enthusiasts buzzing with excitement as the photogenic creatures tend to make an appearance only every few years.
Day is not concerned, however, as she said the owls do not necessarily follow patterns.
"Owls are ruled by their tummies," she said. "So when there is a food shortage, they migrate."
David Bradbeer, program co-ordinator and wildlife biologist for the Delta Farmland and Wildlife Trust, agrees the reappearance of the snowy owls is nothing to be alarmed about.
"I wouldn't say it's out of the ordinary," said Bradbeer. "It's out of the pattern we've come to expect. We're surprised, but these birds don't follow patterns."
He said snowy owls are an irruptive species, which means they will mass migrate south, usually in search of food, periodically.
The previous year's search for food took the owls as far south as Hawaii and Virginia.
This year's migration has been particularly rough on the birds, with four starving and two injured snowy owls already brought to OWL.
All four of the starving owls and one that was electrocuted when it flew into power lines have died. The snowy owl brought in with a broken wing is expected to make a full recovery.
Last year snowy owls were brought in for injuries and some were skinny, said Day, but nothing like this year's number of starving birds.
Snowy owls prey on a large range of food, including shorebirds and various ducks around Delta, so it's unlikely it is a lack of food that is leaving the owls in a beaten position, said Bradbeer.
He thinks the owls could have started their migration already in a weak condition or faced harsh conditions during their flight south. Bradbeer also noted how it could have been a fantastic year for breeding, and the starving owls are younger birds that are inexperienced in hunting waterfowl and other local prey.
Day said the likely culprit for the birds' poor condition was the pleasant fall weather that would have delayed the start of migration.
"The weather was so nice late into the season, and then it just hit and the owls got caught while migrating," she said.
Both Bradbeer and Day emphasize how important it is for everyone wanting to see the owls to keep a distance between themselves and the birds to avoid harassing them.
"People need to leave them alone. Stay on the dike and out of the marsh," said Bradbeer, adding the owls are exhausted and hungry after travelling thousands of kilometres and need to rest.