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Birdwatchers flock to a house in Southern California to see a rare bird of prey


Birdwatchers are flocking to a house in southern California to see a rare bird of prey.

CHRIS SPURGEON: It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing.

SCHMITZ: Chris Spurgeon is with the Pasadena Audubon Society.

SPURGEON: I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd be able to see one in 70-degree weather, standing on a suburban street in my short sleeves.


Yeah. He drove to Orange County to see the wild snowy owl, which, as the name implies, is normally found in the Arctic. The owl stands 2 1/2 feet tall. And its wingspan is five feet.

SPURGEON: This is a large, majestic animal. And it's absolutely unmistakable. It has these bright white feathers flecked with little bits of brown in them and these piercing, piercing yellow eyes. It's a stunning, magnificent animal.

SCHMITZ: And it's a mystery how this snowy owl ended up in Southern California, thousands of miles away from its habitat. But there are theories.

SPURGEON: I like the idea that it landed on a cargo ship and just kind of relaxed and had a nice, uneventful cruise into Los Angeles, and then hopped off the ship and has started to try to make a living here in LA.

SCHMITZ: Could it have been attracted by the glitter and glam of Hollywood?


ROBBIE COLTRANE: (As Hagrid) Harry. Harry. Happy birthday.


SCHMITZ: Harry Potter's feathered friend, Hedwig, is a snowy owl.

INSKEEP: Spurgeon says if Orange County's snowy owl decides to stay for a while in California, it should have no trouble finding food and making it through winter.

SPURGEON: Maybe, you know, next spring, it'll get the urge to migrate north.

SCHMITZ: For the time being, this visitor from the Arctic seems perfectly happy in sunny Orange County.

(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN WILLIAMS' "HEDWIG'S THEME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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