Snowy Owls: Visitors from the Arctic Wilderness

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Snowy Owls are charismatic, majestic and mysterious. They are the heaviest of all North American owls with some weighing almost six pounds. Their yellow eyes, massive talons, feathered feet, eye-catching white plumage and diurnal hunting behavior appeal to almost everyone, even people who normally would rather shop in a crowded mall than walk in the silence of a woodland. Naturalists and birders are smitten by their unpredictable movement patterns, and the spirit of the remote arctic wilderness these amazing raptors represent. However, unless you plan on visiting the high Arctic tundra of North America or Eurasia, the chances of seeing Snowy Owls in the wild is usually nearly zero. But maybe not this December.

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Arctic Invaders Approaching Oakland County

Wilder Side of Oakland County 

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Two-foot-tall winged ghosts of the tundra are coming to town. Bird watchers, nature lovers, naturalists, and Oakland County Harry Potter fans are wishing for the rare opportunity to see the snowy owls of the Far North that have traveled thousands of miles south of their native Arctic home. These beautiful birds, adapted for life in the extreme cold, are the heaviest owl of North America and one of the largest owls on Planet Earth. Reports of snowy owls across the State of Michigan are rapidly trickling into the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and last week, acting on a tip from an avid birder friend in Lapeer, I set out for Tuscola County in the lower part of Michigan’s “thumb”  to search for snowy owls. In less than 90 minutes we located three – – two sleepy ones on rural roadside utility poles and one in a plowed farm field with prey in its talons. These are the owls that I photographed to feature in this special report. Continue reading