by Missouri Net

BRANSON, Mo. – Airborne visitors are traveling the skies over Missouri, and they’re not drones. And they’re not necessarily happy to be here.

Snowy owls are species from the Arctic tundra who’ve been spotted in the Show Me State and other locations in the Midwest in the last couple of months.

The Missouri Department of Conservation says they’re here because of a shortage of food in their natural habitat. They’re especially dependent on lemmings, which are thought to have been in short supply in the Arctic region.

Ken Buchholz, director for the Audubon Center at Riverlands reports overall snowy owls have been seen across north Missouri, while a few have been spotted in the central and southern portions of the state.

According to the agency, the birds last appeared in Missouri and Kansas in noticeable numbers during the winter of 2011-2012. The majority of those where age could be determined were young birds.