Snowy owls need their space to survive

A snowy owl checks out the neighborhood from atop a Little Compton barn. GEOFF DENNIS PHOTO A snowy owl checks out the neighborhood from atop a Little Compton barn. GEOFF DENNIS PHOTO

To the editor,

Despite your very appropriate editorial last week warning of the need to avoid disturbing the migrating snowy owls visiting our area this winter, there have been reports of insensitive, overzealous photographers moving in close and even spooking the birds to get action shots, and, in some instances, causing them to abandon their prey. As you pointed out in your article, these birds are here because they need food. They may be in a weakened, undernourished condition and such harassment could be life-threatening to a bird that is desperate to find food.

Having an opportunity to see a snowy owl can be thrilling, but they should be viewed from a distance of at least 100 feet.  If the owl is aware of your presence and begins to turn its head toward you and begins to reposition itself, you have already disturbed it.

These magnificent birds are here because our winter coastline resembles the tundra where they are from and the food they are looking for is here.  They have a broad diet, hunt during the day, and dive like a falcon to catch their prey.  Snowy owls have been seen at Gooseberry eating ducks, shorebirds, and ring-billed gulls.

Please respect their space so they can thrive through this winter and return to their arctic breeding grounds. Perhaps with our help they may one day grace our shores again.

Lauren Miller-Donnelly

Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary and president of the Paskamansett Bird Club

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