Southwest Michigan Wildlife columnist for The Herald-Palladium

Snowy Owl

A snowy owl on Dec. 19 atop a stop sign near Walmart in Benton Township.

A snowy owl was seen and photographed on Dec. 19 by Jo-Anne Gruchot of St. Joseph, as it perched atop a stop sign along an access road connecting parking lots of Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and other businesses in Benton Township.

It is not uncommon for snowy owls to show up in large parking lots around shopping malls or large box stores, as they resemble the vast treeless tundra where the snowy owl is accustomed to nesting during the summer. The snowy owl has also been known to be attracted to large, flat roofs of large buildings such as malls, supermarkets, etc. The vicinity around The Orchards Mall, Meijer and other businesses in Benton Township would be a good place to search for snowy owls because of the abundance of large parking lots and large, flat roofs.

Barred Owl

A barred owl on Dec. 7 off Ridge Road in Lincoln Township.

Eastern chipmunk

An eastern chipmunk investigates Santa’s hat at Tom and Janet Roberts’ home in Dowagiac.

Jonathan Wuepper is an area naturalist. Report your sightings to him at