Snowy owls seeking summer sun have found a home in metro Detroit


  • Wyandotte Police Department Facebook page

Brace yourselves, winter is coming. Well, not winter exactly but it appears as though snowy owls have returned. Or is it that they never left?

As it turns out, metro Detroit's mysterious invasion of snowy owls is not limited to winter, which is when Metro Times first reported the recurring feathered phenomena after a mass migration from northern Canada's arctic tundra led to appearances throughout Detroit and surrounding suburbs.

Yesterday, while summer temperatures hovered near 90 degrees, Lt. Neil Hunter of the Wyandotte Police Department took to Facebook to share his finding — a snowy owl perched on and around the station.

"They are far-flying birds," Bailey Lininger, a program coordinator at Detroit Audubon said of snowy owls during our bird watch this past January. "They like to travel." It's not uncommon for these speckled creatures to hang out during winter months (sometimes migrating as far as Florida and Bermuda) only to make the trek back during the spring to breed. Lininger explained that the spike in snowy owl appearances was due to an irregular migration event due to a population boom in their arctic home.

Lt. Hunter told WXYZ that he is accepting suggestions on how he can keep the bird around. Unlike most owls, snowy owls are dinural, not nocturnal — meaning they are active during the day. And though catching a glimpse of a snowy owl in a city or populated area is far from unprecedented, they don't have natural predators, which mean humans their biggest threat. This might explain why the birds might appear to be so brazen in their perching locations — like on top of cars.

It should be noted that snowy owls are protected under the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act, so it's illegal to hunt or trap them or tamper with their nests. So, the only way you're going to capture one of these majestic visitors is through a camera lens (if you're lucky).

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.