Snowy owl, all the way from Arctic, stares down on captivated Washington

Snowy owl, all the way from Arctic, stares down on captivated Washington
·2 min read

A snowy owl is causing something of a sensation in the nation's capital -- looking down with startling yellow eyes from perches not far from the U.S. Capitol and drawing flocks of amateur wildlife photographers to brave cold, winter nights trying to capture its one-of-a-kind stare.

PHOTO: A rare snowy owl looks down from its perch high atop the large marble orb of the Christopher Columbus Memorial Fountain at the entrance to Union Station in Washington, Jan. 7, 2022. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
PHOTO: A rare snowy owl looks down from its perch high atop the large marble orb of the Christopher Columbus Memorial Fountain at the entrance to Union Station in Washington, Jan. 7, 2022. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

The owl, predominately native to the Arctic tundra, has curious crowds hoping to spot it around the city, looking down from the heights of Union Station, the National Postal Museum and Capitol Police headquarters.

PHOTO: A rare snowy owl sits on an eagle-topped flag pole outside Union Station in Washington, D.C., Jan. 13, 2022. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: A rare snowy owl sits on an eagle-topped flag pole outside Union Station in Washington, D.C., Jan. 13, 2022. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

On Thursday night, the owl struck a picture-perfect pose on an eagle-topped flagpole at Union Station.

The snowy owl's migration patterns often take it south for the winter from its summer breeding grounds in Canada, but the species has rarely been seen as far away as Washington and the surrounding region.

PHOTO: A rare snowy owl flies over Union Station in Washington, Jan. 12, 2022. (Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: A rare snowy owl flies over Union Station in Washington, Jan. 12, 2022. (Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Wildlife experts attribute this abnormal appearance to "irruptive years" -- when young owls migrate farther away than usual, the AP reported.

PHOTO: Birdwatchers take photos of a rare snowy owl near Union Station in Washington D.C., on Jan. 12, 2022. (Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Birdwatchers take photos of a rare snowy owl near Union Station in Washington D.C., on Jan. 12, 2022. (Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Matt Felperin, a naturalist from Northern Virginia, told The Washington Post, the owl is "doing marvelously," hunting local vermin populations and "doing us a favor with the rats."

PHOTO: A rare snowy owl sits on top of the marble orb of the Christopher Columbus Memorial Fountain near Union Station in Washington D.C., on Jan. 12, 2022. (Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: A rare snowy owl sits on top of the marble orb of the Christopher Columbus Memorial Fountain near Union Station in Washington D.C., on Jan. 12, 2022. (Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

While much is still unknown about how they migrate, said the Owl Research Institute, "One thing we do know, after spending almost 30 years observing them … is that surprises always remain. There is always new behavior to witness, something we've never seen before. So many things that leave us scratching our heads. It's part of what makes the research of these magnificent owls so intriguing, and keeps our work forever humbling."

PHOTO: Birdwatchers line up in front of Union Station in Washington, D.C., Jan. 7, 2022. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
PHOTO: Birdwatchers line up in front of Union Station in Washington, D.C., Jan. 7, 2022. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Washington residents can hope the snowy owl is not an omen of potentially heavy snowfall.

PHOTO: An American Flag flies in the distance as a rare snowy owl looks down from its perch atop the large stone orb of the Christopher Columbus Memorial Fountain at the entrance to Union Station in Washington, Jan. 7, 2022. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
PHOTO: An American Flag flies in the distance as a rare snowy owl looks down from its perch atop the large stone orb of the Christopher Columbus Memorial Fountain at the entrance to Union Station in Washington, Jan. 7, 2022. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

The first sighting on Jan. 3 was followed by eight inches of snow and more is predicted for this weekend.

ABC News' Libby Cathey contributed to this report.

Snowy owl, all the way from Arctic, stares down on captivated Washington originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

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