2014-01-31 / Community

Focus on Wildlife

There are many possible explanations for the large number of snowy owls that have been seen this year. Some say that it’s because of an abundance of lemmings in the arctic during the breeding season. This leads to more young owls surviving. Another explanation is that there is a scarcity of lemmings, leading the birds to come farther south in search of food. But at the same time, if there are a large number of owls after the breeding season, it only makes sense that the younger ones would come south for food and to set up their own territory to get through the winter with less competition.

Whatever the reason, they are here, and they are here in large numbers. Most of the coverage of the snowy owl irruption, in newspapers (like the Sentry) and on TV, shows these beautiful owls sitting on beaches, at airports, on power lines, rooftops or chimneys. But don’t forget that owls are raptors, birds of prey endowed with keen senses and near silent flight. They are the ninjas of the bird world, silently swooping down from out of nowhere with overwhelming force. Their powerful feet, sharp talons and their beak make short work of whatever they catch, from lemmings, squirrels, rabbits or mice, to birds like grebes, ducks, ptarmigan, grouse and even geese.

This snowy owl took an American black duck, a mallard sized bird nearly the same size as the owl and weighs between 2 and 3.6 pounds.

A print of this image and others featured in the Sentry can be ordered online by visiting facebook.com/focusonwildlife and clicking on the orange “our Etsy store” button. Use the coupon code “CourierSnowy” for a discount; 8x10 prints are $10 for Courier readers who use this code. To arrange for pick-up at the Sentry, email focusonwildlife@gmx.com or send a message on Facebook. Wildlife photographer Chuck Homler will donate proceeds from photo sales benefit Center for Wildlife, a nonprofit wildlife medical clinic, located in Cape Neddick. Each year, the center treats an average of 1,600 injured and orphaned wild animal patients including native wild birds, small mammals and reptiles. The center works toward its mission to build a sustainable future for wildlife in the community through medical treatment, rehabilitation, educational outreach, research and conservation activities, without state or federal funding.

Return to top