They're here: Snowy owls being spotted in Minnesota, more could be on way

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They're white, they're from the Arctic, and they're coming down from the sky earlier than usual in Minnesota.

No, it's not snowstorms, thankfully, but a possible movement of snowy owls, who are native to Canada but have been known to spend the occasional winter in northern Minnesota to hunt for food, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says.

However, they're apparently extending beyond their usual stomping grounds in the state, have been seen last month as far south as Minneapolis, Edina and Richfield, signaling a possible "invasion" of the birds, the Star Tribune reports.

The paper says an irruption (not a typo; it's a word for a sudden burst in population of an animal species) of this magnitude was last seen in 2013, referred to by bird enthusiasts as an "invasion year"; however, experts cautioned that the owls can be "unpredictable," so all bets are off.

More recently, the raptors have been spotted where one would expect to see them, in the north-central Minnesota cities of Bemidji and Pinewood, where one was found injured this week, the Bemidji Pioneer reports.

They're pretty and make for a tempting photo-op since they're a relatively rare visitor in Minnesota, but taking pictures should be the extent of your contact with a snowy owl if you are lucky enough to see one.

A wildlife specialist tells the Bemidji Pioneer that the birds are best left alone if encountered, partly because the presence of humans can stress the animals.

Speaking of pictures, though, we already have some photographic proof that an irruption, if not an invasion, is underway.

The photos above and below were snapped and sent into BringMeTheNews by Facebook user Ken Greshowak, who noted the location as Rices Point, Duluth, with Wisconsin's Bong Bridge in the background.

 (Photo: Ken Greshowak)

(Photo: Ken Greshowak)

Greshowak also notes that the current snowy owl irruption has started "much earlier than anticipated" this year.

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