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Birdwatchers flock to a house in Southern California to see a rare bird of prey

ROB SCHMITZ, HOST:

Birdwatchers are flocking to a house in southern California to see a rare bird of prey.

CHRIS SPURGEON: It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing.

SCHMITZ: Chris Spurgeon is with the Pasadena Audubon Society.

SPURGEON: I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd be able to see one in 70-degree weather, standing on a suburban street in my short sleeves.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Yeah. He drove to Orange County to see the wild snowy owl, which, as the name implies, is normally found in the Arctic. The owl stands 2 1/2 feet tall. And its wingspan is five feet.

SPURGEON: This is a large, majestic animal. And it's absolutely unmistakable. It has these bright white feathers flecked with little bits of brown in them and these piercing, piercing yellow eyes. It's a stunning, magnificent animal.

SCHMITZ: And it's a mystery how this snowy owl ended up in Southern California, thousands of miles away from its habitat. But there are theories.

SPURGEON: I like the idea that it landed on a cargo ship and just kind of relaxed and had a nice, uneventful cruise into Los Angeles, and then hopped off the ship and has started to try to make a living here in LA.

SCHMITZ: Could it have been attracted by the glitter and glam of Hollywood?

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE")

ROBBIE COLTRANE: (As Hagrid) Harry. Harry. Happy birthday.

(SOUNDBITE OF OWL SQUAWKING)

SCHMITZ: Harry Potter's feathered friend, Hedwig, is a snowy owl.

INSKEEP: Spurgeon says if Orange County's snowy owl decides to stay for a while in California, it should have no trouble finding food and making it through winter.

SPURGEON: Maybe, you know, next spring, it'll get the urge to migrate north.

SCHMITZ: For the time being, this visitor from the Arctic seems perfectly happy in sunny Orange County.

(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN WILLIAMS' "HEDWIG'S THEME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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