The Harry Potter series may have met its fateful end in 2011 with the release of the epic story’s final film, but one of the chronicle’s most beautiful characters is in the spotlight once more after being recently spotted throughout the U.S.
No, we’re not talking about any of the witches or wizards in J.K. Rowling’s extraordinary series. We’re talking about owls — in particular, majestic snowy owls like Hedwig, the courier bird that accompanied Harry to Hogwarts and beyond for several fictional years.
According to the Associated Press, snowy owls are swooping into the States for a massive migration this winter. Researchers believe that the owls, which can have a wingspan of nearly 5 feet and reach 2 feet in height, had a strong breeding season this summer due to an increase in their main food source: Arctic lemmings.
(SPECIAL: Cyber-Birding Gets An Upgrade)
With more owls searching for sustenance, they have needed to travel farther than usual to find their favorite foods — namely voles, mice, rats, rabbits and other birds. The owls are ordinarily attracted to icy bodies of water, yet sightings have spanned from the Northwest to New England in recent weeks.
While it’s typical for the avian animal to arrive south of its usual Arctic habitat once every three or four years, this season’s immense influx has sent researchers and birdwatchers into a full-fledged frenzy.
“Here’s the largest North American owl in terms of weight, a near all-white ghost of a bird for an adult male,” Matthew Cvetas, a birder from Illinois spotted four snowy owls since November, told the Associated Press. “For me, it symbolizes wilderness at its best.”
The creatures may seem hard to miss — after all, they do have strikingly beautiful white feathers and piercing yellow eyes — but don’t think that a simple stroll outside will earn you a sighting. According to the AP, snowy owls move around often, flying up to 70 miles per hour, and are also nocturnal. So even though there are more than usual making appearances, spotting a snowy owl is still almost as rare as a successful series like Harry Potter.