Department of Natural Resources
It hardly seems possible, but for some species of birds Michigan is down right balmy. For those hardy individuals who venture outdoors, winter can provide a unique opportunity to see some of our state's northern visitors.
Michigan's northwest Lower Peninsula received an early Christmas present during the 1995 Audubon Christmas Bird Count. A rare snowy owl (Nyctea scandiaca) was counted by volunteers in Leelanau County. They observed it for several minutes as it sat on a pole in the Suttons Bay area of northeastern Leelanau County. It was the only "snowy" sighted during the count.
This summer arctic nester has a clutch size of four to nine eggs. Fledging occurs in 50 to 60 days. Voles and lemmings are preferred food. Winter irruptions (movement) of large numbers of snowy owls to lower 48 states are unpredictable; these occurrences may be set off by food shortages in their breeding areas.