Baby owls spark case of mistaken identity
Some interesting owls have been spotted in Mountain View County, hanging out on branches and in other locations and sporting a fluffy, snowy coat.
While there was a suspicion that these owls were snowy owls being sighted in larger numbers in the area, this isn’t the case, according to Medicine River Wildlife Centre’s executive director, Carol Kelly.
“Snowy owls are gone at this time of year, they leave around the end of March,” explained Kelly. “What people are seeing are baby grey horned owls.”
These baby owls hatch around this time of year and are now leaving the nest and have become “branchers,” Kelly said.
“They can’t fly yet, so they hang around on the branches by the nests,” said Kelly.
As for why people might be confusing a typically dark-feathered grey horned for a white-coated snowy owl, Kelly said, “People might think they’re snowy owls because they’re still partially covered in a white, downy fuzz.”
Grey horned owls do not build their own nests, but instead to lay their eggs they “steal” nests left from other owls or birds the year before, especially if the nest is near a good food source.
Grey horned owls can be seen nesting in a variety of places as a result, from branches in trees or in barns or the nooks and crannies in other buildings.
As for why there’s been so many sightings this year, it may simply be because of where the owls have chosen to nest this year, or just because it has been a “good year for the owls” in terms of breeding.