Rare Snowy Owl Shows Up in California–First in 100 Years

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“It’s like a Christmas present from Mother Nature,” exclaimed one onlooker.

She stood among rows of birdwatchers and photographers who flocked to a California neighborhood for a rare glimpse of a beautiful snowy owl.

These huge white birds rarely make their way to sunny Orange County. In fact, the frozen Minnesota tundra, thousands of miles away, is their normal destination during their winter migration. There, they are difficult to spot with their white plumage that camouflages well with snow and gray trees.

Perched atop a neighborhood roof in Cypress, however, the owl was easy to spot. Arriving last Tuesday, it is the first evidence of an errant individual from that species in Southern California in over 100 years.

One sighting in 1918, without photographic evidence, is the only history of a snowy owl in that part of the country, though they occasionally dip into the northernmost part of the massive state.

“It’s not unheard of for a migratory bird to become turned around or blown off-course,” Dee Dee Salisbury, a volunteer for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, told the LA Times on Thursday.

“Most of the northwest U.S. did just experience a blizzard/storm this past weekend, so there’s a possibility it could have followed the cold front down.”

Other experts believe the bird could have hitched a ride on a south-bound freighter ship, and been content to hang out for the long journey.

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