The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

Local Sports

January 22, 2014

2014 seems to be the year of the owls

Medina Journal-Register — This seems to be the year for rare or uncommon owls. Last winter a great bit of time was spent photographing and studying the endangered Short-Eared Owls. A group of about seven or eight of them have spent the last three winters in the Fletcher Chapel and Posson Road area. They’re back again this year but there has been a noticeable increase in their number in various pockets around the state.

Then along comes the Snowy Owl this winter in record numbers. Birders are going crazy over this irruption of Snowys and everyone who makes the effort is seeing them. Usually one licensed bander takes care of banding these Snowy Owls in Western New York for scientific studies. However, this year there are so many that he has enlisted another licensed raptor bander to help.

I have been busy photographing these beautiful birds and helping one of the banders locate birds in this area. And last week, the opportunity to see another uncommon owl came upon me. This owl had been spotted in the Scottsville area and I knew the fellow who had been keeping tabs on it. He agreed to “guide” me to this bird and it is a good thing he did, because this bird is tremendous at hiding.

The first trip, he was found hiding in an old snag covered with grape vines, making it extremely difficult to see. There are two things that stand out about this owl – his ability to “disappear” while perching and his long, high “ears” (not really ears but just tufts of feathers where you think the ears should be).

The second trip, he had to be relocated, but even though Jim was not there to guide me there were two other “spotters” who accompanied me. Krys Elam rode over with me and Cathy Gardner from Lima met us at the owl location. We roamed the area for some time until Cathy softly spoke and pointed up into a tree between us. This time he was in a more visible location but still avoided being spotted right off, as our tracks in the snow showed that we had walked by him several times.

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