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Snowy owls fly to Michigan

LANSING, Mich., Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Snowy owls, typically seen in Arctic regions, are traveling south to places such as lower Michigan in greater numbers this winter, delighted birdwatchers say.

The 2-foot-tall birds, whose meal of choice is lemmings, are searching for food, the Detroit Free Press reported. An abundant food supply this past summer allowed the young owls to thrive, and this year fly further south in search of nutrition. The birds are a federally protected species, and most of the birds spotted this winter are young and with limited hunting skills.

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A few snowy owls are spotted annually in the Upper Peninsula of the state, but "this winter is highly unusual," said Karen Cleveland of the Michigan Department of National Resources.

Birding enthusiasts have identified snowy owls throughout the state, in larger numbers and in more widespread locations than usual. The owls typically have 4- to 5-foot wingspans, regal poses and piercing yellow eyes.

"It's one of the most impressive birds on the planet," said wildlife photographer Stacy Niedzwiecki of Grand Rapids, who spied a snowy owl in the Muskegon area.

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