Snowy owls spotted at lake

First Posted: 1/23/2015

INDIAN LAKE — While walking his dog around Indian Lake, Robert Roby saw a sight he hasn’t seen in a long time.

Roby, who lives in the Indian Lake area, is an amateur photographer. He said he’s seen a lot of different types of wildlife on Indian Lake, but snowy owls are typically rare in the area.

The photo, taken Thursday morning, marked the first time Roby had seen the bird in three years.

“You’d be amazed at what you see at Indian Lake every day,” he said.

Jim McCormac, biologist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said the winter of 2014 was the largest flight of snowy owls — 177 reported in Ohio — in history. Between five to 10 snowy owls are typical each winter, McCormac said.

Populations of snowy owls are dependant on their food, lemmings. McCormac said when there is an increase in lemmings, there is an increase in owls.

Now, there isn’t enough lemmings to support the number of snowy owls, which will inevitably lead to deaths among the birds.

McCormac said the birds are coming farther south to search for food in their time of desperation. The birds are from the Arctic and are commonly seen in Quebec and the Lake Erie area.

Roby said he spots a lot of birds by the lake, including bald eagles, migrating ducks and osprey. He’ll never reveal his spot for bird-watching though. “There’s another side to Indian Lake” away from vacationers and boaters.

“If you go down there, there will be people from states around looking at these birds,” Roby said.

“It’s Hedwig come to life,” McCormac said of the fictional character Harry Potter’s pet owl. The series of books are written by J.K. Rowling.

The owl’s wingspan can be as long as up to five feet and the female birds can weigh as much as five to six pounds.

Though the owls come in cycles according to their food supply, they’re not endangered, McCormac said. Many creatures in nature are cyclical in population when relying on food, he said.

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