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Majestic Snowy Owl seen further south in greater numbers

Snowy owl are reportedly showing up in lower Michigan this winter as an unusually large numbers, while some have made it as far as Texas and Hawaii.

Snowy OwlEnlarge
A snowy owl sits in its enclosure at the "ZOOM" Zoo on August 23, 2011 in Gelsenkirchen, western Germany. (PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Snowy owls are reportedly showing up in lower Michigan this winter as an unusually large numbers, while some have made it as far as Texas and Hawaii.

The birds, which grow to 2 feet tall and are normally seen in the Arctic tundra, have flown farther south in search of food, according to the Detroit Free Press, adding that:

With their regal pose, piercing yellow eyes and fluffy, feathered legs, the owls are an unexpected winter attraction.

Snowy owls, also known as arctic owls, have been spotted in Muskegon, Tawas Point State Park, Harbor Beach and Kalamazoo, among other places, the Associated Press reported.

The owls were following lemmings, their main food source, according to the AP, which cited scientists as saying the small rodents were abundant last summer, allowing adult owls to raise more young.

When birds turn up in unusual places or in high numbers, the phenomenon is called an irruption, the Detroit Free Press wrote. 

The AP quoted Karen Cleveland, bird biologist with the Department of Natural Resources, as saying that this winter was "highly unusual."

Wildlife enthusiasts have reportedly themselves been flocking to the areas of Snowy Owl sighting, prompting Cleveland to warn that people should keep their distance from the birds and be careful not to disturb them.

Spooking them causes them to use up energy and weaken them. Unless a bird is clearly injured, it shouldn't be disturbed, she said.

Snowy Owls are federally protected, and possessing them without a special permit is against the law.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120129/snowy-owl-michigan-arctic-protected-species