What is white, descends from the skies, and a welcome sight in October?

Not snow flakes. Snowy owls. Formerly a rare visitor to Wisconsin and the Lower 48, in recent winters the large Arctic birds have been showing up around here in increasing numbers. This year, well in advance of the first snows, researchers have already documented at least 30 “snowies” in Wisconsin, including a half dozen locally at the limited-access Cat Island chain across the bay from campus. One of UW-Green Bay’s lead researchers, Richter Museum curator Tom Erdman says, simply, “It’s unprecedented. It’s causing us to ask, ‘Why?’” Erdman has a theory, and he’s quoted extensively in a fine Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article.