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A Harbinger? Snowy Owl on Devereux Beach by Kyle Maley

Snowy owls continue to make Marblehead a winter home.

Snowy Owl at Devereux Beach. Credit: Kyle Maley
Snowy Owl at Devereux Beach. Credit: Kyle Maley
 
It's the season of the snowy owl. True snow birds seeking a better life south of their native land this winter.

The yellow-eyed owls have descended upon the Northeast and other regions of the United States in recent months, apparently driven south from the Artic in search of food.

The large striking white birds of prey have perched on roof ridges, chimneys and beaches. They have frequented flat open areas among them those found at Logan International Airport.

Kyle Maley happened upon a Snowy Owl at Devereux Beach late Monday and took this gorgeous photo of a perched owl. 

Late last year, in December, Marblehead resident Kevin Baer posted a photo of a snowy owl perched atop a chimney at his family's home.

The post drew lots interest including the informative comments below from Nancy Gilberg and Andy Karl.


Nancy Gilberg:
Very important to not disturb them, as they've traveled a long way in search of food. (Food supply is cyclical; when supplies are low, birds come south from arctic regions.) From Ranger Poole at Parker River Natl. Wildlife Refuge: "Most tips are really common sense. Stay in your motor vehicle if you can; wildlife is usually much less threatened by people in a car or truck...versus when you get out you look a lot like a predator. If a bird like a snowy is at rest or stationary...any movement induced by your presence and, more importantly, advancing toward it, can cause "disturbance" (behaviorally and legally). Needless to say, distance is best, telephoto lenses are best. Any animal is most vulnerable during colder weather. The more they move, the more calories they expend. Expended energy requires refueling...and food can, needless to say, be more difficult to find in the colder months.

Nancy Gilberg:
"This page, http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/snowy_owl/id is interesting and states, "Snowy Owls mainly eat small mammals, particularly lemmings, which at times on the tundra may be all these birds eat. Sometimes they’ll switch to ptarmigan and waterfowl. Snowy Owls are also one of the most agile owls, able to catch small birds on the fly. On both their breeding and wintering grounds, their diet can range widely to include rodents, rabbits, hares, squirrels, weasels, wading birds, seabirds, ducks, grebes, and geese." Crows commonly harrass all birds of prey. Hopefully they'll just annoy and not harm the owl!

Andy Karl: 
Beautiful bird great photos. I saw one sitting on the sand at Nahant Beach yesterday. A local Audubon person told me that there are "more than usual" numbers around. It seems a lack of their local food supply causes them to look elsewhere for a meal. They do eat rodents/ rats.
joan connor January 21, 2014 at 08:38 AM
Thank you for taking these marvelous pictures and sharing them with us.

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