[CT Birds] More on snowy owls
paul.fusco at sbcglobal.net
Wed Dec 7 18:36:20 EST 2016
There is much excitement generated by the almost yearly arrival of snowy owls in CT. They help bring an awareness of the natural world to new birders and nature photographers alike. Just as they garnered attention over 100 years ago when scores were killed every winter for sport. Thankfully that practice is no longer popular.
Julian is right in saying that these owls are hardy survivors. It is true that a few may arrive in bad condition due to a lack of food or hunting skill. But most, by far, are in good health. Why do so many show up at coastal locations? Because that is where their food is. They will take rats and rabbits, as well as as gulls and ducks, which they take at night right off the water while they sleep.
Common sense is the best behavior to employ in proximity to these owls. If an owl is looking wary - back off to let it calm down. Be patient. Trying to get too close or moving too fast will be the worst thing you can do.
Cell phones and short camera lenses should be used for wider shots and not for trying to get frame-filling images. If you want frame-fillers get a long lens.
I once saw a woman in heels with a cell phone trying to get too close to a snowy on a jetty. She was very lucky not to slip on the rocks. And all she did was force the owl to fly half a mile down the shoreline.
Snowy owls will stay in CT all winter if they don't get harassed. They are from vast areas of the Arctic where it is nothing for them to fly long distances with little effort. For one in CT, it would be nothing to fly the twenty miles across to Long Island. Let's keep them here by using good field skill.
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