Arctic Snowy Owls Are Descending on Detroit—Here’s Why

ca2hill/iStock via Getty Images
ca2hill/iStock via Getty Images

Detroit residents are hosting an influx of majestic snowy owls that are swooping all over the city—and, as much as we’d love to believe it, they’re not there to deliver mail to Harry Potter’s American counterparts.

Due to an especially productive breeding season last year, the Arctic is now home to an unusually high number of snowy owls. The younger ones, therefore, have flown south to spend the winter in a region where less competition—and less snow—makes it easier to find food. Come spring, they’ll head back up north to breed.

Detroit Audubon program coordinator Bailey Lininger told the Detroit Metro Times that this irregular migration event, called an irruption, isn’t a first for Detroit: The snowy owls also swept down from the Arctic during the winter of 2013 to 2014.

Because the birds are diurnal rather than nocturnal, they’re not hard to spot hunting around town or roosting atop office buildings—one woman even found one hanging out on the roof of her car. If you’re accustomed to beautiful birds spooking easily and staying as far from humans as possible, the snowy owls’ behavior might seem strangely brazen; but snowy owls don’t have natural predators, and they’re unaccustomed humans, so they really have no reason to fear us. Lininger hopes we can keep it that way.

“We want to be welcoming hosts for the snowy owls when they’re in our city,” she told the Detroit Metro Times. “They’re not used to seeing or being around humans, so don’t harass them or freak them out.” If you do, you could actually face charges—the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal to hunt, capture, or even damage the nests of snowy owls.

Bird watching, on the other hand, is a lovely, legal way to appreciate the magnificence of the winged winter tourists—just be sure to follow ethical birding guidelines and avoid harassing or disturbing the owls. If you live in Detroit, your best bet is to look for them at airports or open fields where they’re likely to hunt small, scurrying creatures.

[h/t The Detroit Metro Times]

Kodak’s New Cameras Don't Just Take Photos—They Also Print Them

Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.
Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.
Kodak

Snapping a photo and immediately sharing it on social media is definitely convenient, but there’s still something so satisfying about having the printed photo—like you’re actually holding the memory in your hands. Kodak’s new STEP cameras now offer the best of both worlds.

As its name implies, the Kodak STEP Instant Print Digital Camera, available for $70 on Amazon, lets you take a picture and print it out on that very same device. Not only do you get to skip the irksome process of uploading photos to your computer and printing them on your bulky, non-portable printer (or worse yet, having to wait for your local pharmacy to print them for you), but you never need to bother with ink cartridges or toner, either. The Kodak STEP comes with special 2-inch-by-3-inch printing paper inlaid with color crystals that bring your image to life. There’s also an adhesive layer on the back, so you can easily stick your photos to laptop covers, scrapbooks, or whatever else could use a little adornment.

There's a 10-second self-timer, so you don't have to ask strangers to take your group photos.Kodak

For those of you who want to give your photos some added flair, you might like the Kodak STEP Touch, available for $130 from Amazon. It’s similar to the regular Kodak STEP, but the LCD touch screen allows you to edit your photos before you print them; you can also shoot short videos and even share your content straight to social media.

If you want to print photos from your smartphone gallery, there's the Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer. This portable $80 printer connects to any iOS or Android device with Bluetooth capabilities and can print whatever photos you send to it.

The Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer connects to an app that allows you to add filters and other effects to your photos. Kodak

All three Kodak STEP devices come with some of that magical printer paper, but you can order additional refills, too—a 20-sheet set costs $8 on Amazon.

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The Reason Dogs Are Terrified of Thunderstorms—And How You Can Help

The face of a dog who clearly knows that a hard rain's a-gonna fall.
The face of a dog who clearly knows that a hard rain's a-gonna fall.
Charles Deluvio, Unsplash

Deafening thunder can be a little scary even for a full-grown human who knows it’s harmless, so your dog’s terror is understandable. But why exactly do thunderstorms send so many of our pawed pals into a tailspin?

Many dogs are distressed by unexpected loud noises—a condition known as noise aversion, or noise phobia in more severe cases—and sudden thunderclaps fall into that category. What separates a wailing siren or fireworks show from a thunderstorm in a dog's mind, however, is that dogs may actually realize a thunderstorm is coming.

As National Geographic explains, not only can dogs easily see when the sky gets dark and feel when the wind picks up, but they can also perceive the shift in barometric pressure that occurs before a storm. The anxiety of knowing loud noise is on its way may upset your dog as much as the noise itself.

Static electricity could also add to this anxiety, especially for dogs with long and/or thick hair. Tufts University veterinary behaviorist Nicholas Dodman, who also co-founded the Center for Canine Behavior Studies, told National Geographic that a static shock when brushing up against metal may heighten your dog’s agitation during a storm.

It’s difficult to nail down why each dog despises thunderstorms. As Purina points out, one could simply be thrown off by a break from routine, while another may be most troubled by the lightning. In any case, there are ways to help calm your stressed pet.

If your dog’s favorite spot during a storm is in the bathroom, they could be trying to stay near smooth, static-less surfaces for fear of getting shocked. Suiting them up in an anti-static jacket or petting them down with anti-static dryer sheets may help.

You can also make a safe haven for your pup where they’ll be oblivious to signs of a storm. Purina behavior research scientist Ragen T.S. McGowan suggests draping a blanket over their crate, which can help muffle noise. For dogs that don’t use (or like) crates, a cozy room with drawn blinds and a white noise machine can work instead.

Consulting your veterinarian is a good idea, too; if your dog’s thunderstorm-related stress is really causing issues, an anti-anxiety prescription could be the best option.

[h/t National Geographic]