2 Arctic denizens under medical care in Nebraska

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Associated Press

Posted on November 20, 2012 at 3:02 PM

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Two snowy owls have been receiving medical care in Nebraska, far from their species' Arctic homes.

One suffered a broken wing after being hit by a garbage truck on Nov. 8 near Avoca in southeast Nebraska. The other was spotted last week at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha and is being treated for malnourishment, executive director Betsy Finch of the Raptor Recovery Center Nebraska told the Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/Pu0WWf ).

The birds have turned up in popular culture, thanks to the film appearances by one called Hedwig, who accompanies and carries messages for Harry Potter in the "Harry Potter" movies.

Seeing the owls in Nebraska, so far from their normal habitat far to the north, is unusual but not unprecedented.

In what are called irruption years, Finch said, far more birds than normal fly south, leaving the Arctic. Bird experts say the incidents are tied to the population cycle of lemmings, a dietary staple, and other factors including weather.

Last year scores of the birds left the Arctic Circle and were found in several states, including Iowa, and as far south as Texas.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission said it confirmed 160 sightings of snowy owls in the state last year.

Finch and her staff at the center near Elmwood treated 16 injured or malnourished snowy owls last year.

Four of them survived, Finch said. Two were released to the wild and two were places with nonprofit organizations for education purposes.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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