Indianapolis, IN. — Keep an eye to the sky this holiday season and you’ll likely see more than just snowflakes. Packs of rare snowy owls are expected to flock throughout the Midwest.
The snowy owls (bubo scandiacus) will be far from their Arctic home, according to wildlife officials. The famous snowy raptors are native to colder parts of North America and Eurasia, but migrate south from northern Canada every couple of years during a process called irruption.
Owls cycle through irruption – dramatic, irregular migration of large numbers of birds to areas they aren’t typically found – every four to five years. The last time it happened was in the winter of 2013-2014, when thousands of owls wandered down and settled throughout the U.S. East Coast and Great Lakes.
This is far from the first time snowy owls caught national attention. The birds caused quite a hoot when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone first hit theaters back in 2001. As the franchise grew, so too did public interest in these fantastic beasts.
The birds will face some challenges. Developed landscapes and telephone wires pose particular hazards, as do airport runways. Despite their magnificent look, scientists and researchers advise keeping a minimum of 100 yards away from the owls for their own safety.