A snowy owl provided an unexpected diversion Friday afternoon during a regional dog show at the CenturyLink Center Omaha.
The snowy owl perched on the east side of the convention center's exterior and attracted dozens of spectators, some of whom took photographs.
The snowy owl is fairly rare in the Midwest.
“It was just pretty cool, I thought,” said Nick Bidroski of Omaha, who was among those who photographed the bird.
Snowy owls are large white raptors that typically live in the Arctic and feed on lemmings. Last winter, however, record numbers of snowy owls visited Nebraska and Iowa, avian biologists said at the time. More than 100 sightings were reported in both states combined.
Denise Lewis, outreach coordinator for Raptor Recovery Nebraska, said Saturday that snowy owls visiting the Midwest in large numbers may be a bad sign for the birds.
Nebraska is generally too warm for snowy owls, Lewis said. When they come this far south, she said, they apparently are seeking food.
Last winter, she said, her organization cared for 16 snowy owls that were emaciated with hunger and infested with parasites. She said only two could be released into the wild, in Minnesota, and two, which had damaged wings, were accepted by other centers for educational purposes. The others didn't survive.
Bidroski said that as far as he could tell, the snowy owl at the CenturyLink Center was doing all right.
“He seemed fine to me,” he said. “It didn't look like he was ill at all.”
The bird evidently moved on, and animal lovers Saturday turned their complete attention to the dogs.
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