Snowy owls have returned to Washington for the second year in a row.
Typically, the bright white arctic birds make an appearance in the U.S. every three or four winters, but the birds have graced Washington with their presence now for two years running. There was a mass southern irruption in 2011/2012 where thousands of owls were observed across the U.S. to the delight of birdwatchers; this year, reports of owl sightings began last week in Blaine, when a snowy owl took roost on a local apartment building.
Familiar to Harry Potter fans as Harry’s companion Hedwig, the owls are easily recognized by their stark white feathers and yellow eyes. Adult males get whiter as they get older, while females retain their brown markings.
According to National Geographic, the birds have exceptional hearing and keen eyesight and range in weight from 3.5 to 6.5 pounds. The predatory birds have up to five-foot wingspans.