Holding your breath for a Hogwarts invite? This might just be your year! The Harry Potter owl has been spotted in record numbers across the U.S., and while no one has actually seen an invitation clutched in their claws, that doesn't mean there isn't one out there for you.
The snowy owl usually makes its way to the U.S. every three or four winters, but this year they have arrived in droves from the Pacific Northwest to New England.
"It's very unusual, because it's coast to coast," Denver Holt, director of the Owl Research Institute in Charlo, Montana told the Associated Press.
Many locations generally report only a few of the owls every three or four years, but in South Dakota's Lake Andes region alone, more than 30 have been spotted.
"Thirty in one area, that's mind numbing," said Mark Robbins, an ornithologist with the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute.
What's the cause of the influx? Researchers believe that the huge owls, measuring two feet tall with a five-foot wingspan, enjoyed a strong breeding season in the Arctic and have crossed into North America looking for delicious voles, field mice, rats and rabbits.
"And if they're finding rodents there, they're staying there," Robbins said "And perhaps seeing a couple of more snowy owls there, they may think, 'Okay, this is a hot spot.'"
The beautiful Harry Potter owl, white with dark spots, was a messenger and companion in the wildly popular book and movie series. They can survive an estimated 10 to 15 years in the wild and up to 30 in captivity, although keeping them as pets is not recommended -- better to let them deliver those Hogwarts invites on their own time.
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