Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

January 13, 2014

Snowy owl sightings up in Michigan this winter

DEWITT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Snowy owls are out in force in Michigan this winter, thanks to a population boom in their Arctic breeding lands.

Lansing-area birdwatchers have been sighting the 2-foot-tall raptors more frequently than usual, according to the Lansing State Journal (http://on.lsj.com/KYqcIk).

Snowy owl sightings have taken place at Capital Region International Airport in Clinton County's DeWitt Township, Ingham County's Alaiedon Township north of Mason and at Gerald R. Ford International Airport in suburban Grand Rapids.

Capital Regional airport Operations Director Lisa Adams said that people have spotted the owls with some regularity at the airport over the past two months, including nine times in December.

"We don't usually see them very much," Adams said. "I've had people call asking about the birds. They'd heard there was increase (of snowy owls) and that they like to hang around airports."

Why airports? Because they are similar to the tundra habitat where the birds breed, experts say.

Snowy owls breed in the Arctic and typically move south in the winter. Experts say the owl's population boom may be because of an abundance of one of their favorite foods, lemmings.

"It's not unusual to see snowy owls in Michigan," said Jonathan Lutz, executive director of Michigan Audubon. "But the number of birds we're seeing this year is unusual," he said.

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Information from: Lansing State Journal, http://www.lansingstatejournal.com

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