Why Do Snowy Owls Give A Hoot About Detroit?

“This is the first year we’re starting to spot snowies in Metro Detroit.”

Audubon Society

Over the past few weeks there’s been pictures circulating of snowy owls sitting on the hood of cars around downtown Detroit

Their arrival in the city has brought some exposure to a local organization. 

Detroit Audubon, which has been around since the late 1930s, tracks bird activity in the city. 

Bailey Lininger, Detroit Audubon’s program coordinator, speaks with WDET’s Ryan Patrick Hooper about the presence of the owls in they city. 

“Every few years there’ll be a…really good year up on the (Canadian) tundra for snowies and they’ll produce a lot of babies,” says Lininger. “There’s just not enough space for them to stick around all winter, so the juveniles will come farther south to spend the winter hunting and hanging out.

“That happens every few years and it’s called an ‘eruption.'”

Hooper also speaks with Erin Rowan, Audubon’s Research Coordinator and Office Administrator. 

“This isn’t anything new,” she says. “We’ve seen eruptions happen in the state of Michigan before. But this is the first year we’re starting to spot snowies in Metro Detroit.” 

Click on the audio player above for the full conversation. 



  • Ryan Patrick Hooper
    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host of "In the Groove" on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.