This snowy owl was photographed by Mark Hagerty across the street from his residence on South Bass Island on Sunday. Angie Martens saw the bird fly over their home and disappear that evening. Lisa Brohl saw a snowy owl at the Middle Bass East Point Preserve on Thanksgiving Day but did not get a photo. We should keep our eyes open for more of these visitors from the north-owls that are active during the day! The following is an excerpt from The West Virginia Birds Listserve on Tuesday reminding us to treat these owls with respect.
“With too many owls for the available food supply, numerous Snowy Owls, primarily young birds, fly south in search of other prey, including rabbits, squirrels, mice, and even sea birds. Snowy Owls are most commonly seen in open fields, particularly along the coast, but during irruption they may show up anywhere. Even though it is a delight for many people to see a Snowy Owl, it’s not easy for the owls, especially the young snowies that often have traveled thousands of miles to find food. It’s normally the weaker, immature owls that are forced by adults to leave the better hunting territories up north. These adolescent owls frequently face the harshness and uncertainties of long distance travel from severe storms, to difficulty finding food. Many juveniles are inexperienced hunters and tend to be hungry, tired, and stressed when they arrive. Sometimes even badly malnourished or half-starved. If you see a Snowy Owl, please view these magnificent large birds from a respectable distance. Leave the weary owls alone to rest and hunt. Owls don’t tolerate noise or people getting to close. They need quiet and plenty of room to feel safe. People should not view Snowy Owls for to long, or pursue, or chase the owls for close looks or photos with point-and-shoot cameras that require pictures in close proximity to the subject. By harassing the young Snowy Owls, you are making them spend the little energy they have, trying to avoid people”.