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Journal Times, Gregory Shaver, Associated Press
In this Dec 22, 2011 file photo, Jenny Wenzel from the Hoy Audubon Society watches a snowy owl as it perches on the roof of the North Beach Oasis on the Lake Michigan shoreline in Racine, Wis. An Arctic owl species whose popularity received a boost from the "Harry Potter" movies is making an abundant and deeper push into the United States this winter. Birdwatchers have reported higher-than-normal numbers of Snowy Owls across the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, and the white, yellow-eyed birds have been spotted as far south as Kansas.

LAKE ANDES, S.D. — A species of majestic, mostly white owls popularized by Harry Potter is being sighted in abundant numbers this winter far from both Hogwarts and its native Arctic habitat.

Snowy owls typically arrive in the U.S. every three or four winters. This year's irruption is widespread, with birders from the Pacific Northwest to New England reporting frequent sightings of the yellow-eyed birds.

Lemmings are snowy owls' main food source, and a plentiful population of the Arctic rodents this summer led to a strong owl breeding season.

Owl researcher Denver Holt says the baby boom is sending many of the youngsters across the border to scrounge for voles, field mice, rats, rabbits and shore birds.

Snowy owls can top 2 feet in height with a wingspan of nearly 5 feet.