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Snowy Owls Flocking To Chicago Lakefront

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Snowy Owl

A snowy owl sits in its enclosure at the “ZOOM” Zoo on August 23, 2011 in Gelsenkirchen, western Germany. The bird, one of the largest owl species, is also known as arctic owl, great white owl or harfang. (Credit: PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Next time he needs a snowy owl, Harry Potter can come to the Chicago lakefront.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, the owls are showing up in abnormally high numbers along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

The Chicago Tribune reports a population boom among snowy owls breeding in the Arctic has sent them farther south in search of food.

Usually, the owls eat small rodents such as lemmings and voles, but they can’t get to the rodents when there is a lot of snow and must fly elsewhere to find food, the Tribune reported.

That could be good news for Chicagoans who hate rats. The owls feed on rats, as well as ducks and gulls.

Evanston birdwatcher Matthew Cvetas tells the Tribune that normally, only one or two owls would be spotted in Chicago all year long. But this year, snowy owls have already been spotted at Montrose Harbor on the North Side and Promontory Point on the South, as well as Winthrop Harbor and Waukegan, the Tribune reported.

Up to eight owls have also been spotted along Green Bay in Wisconsin, and six more have been seen on the Michigan shore of Lake Michigan, the newspaper reported.

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