After one of these snowy owls got sucked into a jet engine at JFK International Airport, the species was added to a list of birds that are allowed to be shot and killed, to protect planes from deadly collisions, according to news reports. At least two snowy owls were shot and killed at JFK on Dec. 7. However, after a surge of media attention, the Port Authority said on Dec. 9 that it was reversing its decision to shoot the birds, and that it would try to trap and relocate them.
The owls are pretty easy to trap, with a lure featuring a live mouse wherein the birds' talons become snared in thin strings, McGowan said. The birds are often quite difficult to scare away using traditional methods, such as shell crackers (which are similar to bottle rockets), he added.
For bird lovers, now is the perfect opportunity to spot snowy owls, McGowan said — he has seen 10 in the past week alone in upstate New York. Curious bird watchers can see if there have been any sightings near them using eBird.org, a tool developed at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. People can also report their own sightings on the site, he said.
"These are cool birds, and this is the time to see them," McGowan said. They should stick around through the end of February, he added.
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This story originally appeared on LiveScience's OurAmazingPlanet.