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Owl in Wisconsin said far from home

March 29, 2013 at 6:17 PM   |   Comments

MIDDLETON, Wis., March 29 (UPI) -- A rarely seen great gray owl has taken up residence in Wisconsin, surprisingly far south of its normal Canadian winter haunts, wildlife experts said.

The large owl is the southernmost of many northern owls recently reported to the state Department of Natural Resources and has taken up residence next to a brewery in Middleton, the Wisconsin State Journal reported Friday.

A shortage of voles -- a small rodent that is a mainstay of owl diets -- in Canadian forests has prompted the southern movement of several species of owl into Wisconsin, DNR scientist Ryan Brady said.

The gray owl, which Brady says was likely hatched just last summer, has drawn a flock of camera-toting bird enthusiasts to the Capital Brewery.

"People love owls," Brady said. "We have this connection with owls that's inexplicable. Maybe it is the flat, round face with the eyes that stare forward like ours. Or maybe it's that they are mostly out at night and we can't see them. We only hear them."

Most of the northern owls in Wisconsin temporarily are likely to head north again soon, Brady said, although a young bird such as the Middleton owl may stay longer because it is not yet of breeding age.

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