Al Sloway went to his barn this morning and found a Snowy Owl staring back at him, covered in fresh cow manure. The only thing recognizable on this typically sparkling white arctic owl when he was found, were his bright yellow eyes. The owl likely followed a rodent into the barn,hoping for a meal, but during the process found himself stuck in cow manure and unable to move.
Thank you Al for calling and getting help for the owl and REGI volunteer Jeff Konopacky for transporting him to us. This is another example of two wonderful folks working together to make a difference for wildlife. Snowy owls are winter visitors to our area from the Arctic tundra.
Snowy Owls frequent areas like farms when they visit WI in the winter season. There are few reasons that make farms appealing the the spectacular white owls. First, farms have yard lights at night. Young Snowy Owls such as this one, are hatching in the arctic...the land of the midnight sun. They very literally have never seen dark/night before. The glow of the yard light gives the young owls some comfort. Farms also are ringed with fences and therefore fence posts. These posts are about 3-4 feet off the ground, the perfect height for an owl that has been raised on the ground in the tundra where there are no trees. High perches are not something they are familiar with. Last of all, farms have animals and mice are attracted to the animals food. Snowy owls favorite food is rodents. In the arctic they eat lemmings but in our region, voles, mice, rats or other rodents are their prey. Please, if you have a farm, allow the owls and hawks to do their work and not do put out any rat poisons. The owls are poisoned secondarily if they eat a rodent that has even had a single bite of the poison pellets or blocks.
The owl has has his initial wash, a process that will need to be repeated several times in the next few days. He has burns on his skin from the acid in the manure, but so far we are not finding any fractures.
Thanks Al and Jeff for helping our newest patient.
The photos will show you how the Snowy Owl arrived and the first washing process.