A smattering of snowy owls from the tundra of northern Canada have been spotted recently around Duluth-Superior, according to birding experts.

David Evans, a local raptor bander, told the Duluth News Tribune he has recorded five snowy owl sightings so far this winter and that an average of 10 to 15 of the arctic denizens typically make it to the head of Lake Superior in search of new hunting territory.

An abundance of lemmings, the main prey of the owls, has in recent years caused their population to swell, leaving too few winter territories for all the young birds, so some come south, Duluth birder and author Laura Erickson told Sam Cook, the newspaper's outdoor writer.

But after years of abundant snowy owl reproduction, the lemming population typically crashes. "So the birds coming down this year may be more desperate for food than those in other years," Erickson said. Here they must adapt to trees, power lines, buildings and cars, Cook wrote.