This time a year ago, if you had contacted the fine folks at Avian Haven in Freedom, and asked how many owls they had rescued so far in 2018, the answer would have been zero. If you called them today, the answer would be 25. You read that right. 25 this year, compared to zero last year. Naturally, your next question would be, why?

It's kind of a two-fold answer. Part one is fantastic news for the owls of Maine. Much like the squirrel deluge we had last year, an abundance of food sent the owl numbers soaring high into the sky. More acorns and seeds everywhere, meant that there were a lot more mice and other such small prey for the nocturnal raptors to feed on. More food always equals more babies, according to News Center Maine.

The second part of the answer is kind of our fault. How many times have you tossed a banana peel or apple core out the window of your car, thinking to yourself that you're not really littering, because some small little critter will come along and snag it, thus continuing the circle of life? Well you're right. But....

When you do that, mice and other small creatures are indeed coming out to snag your tasty leavings. And, with the snow being icy and crusty, it's making it hard for the owls to get to the critters burrowing under the snow. So that means owls are hanging out closer to roads to swoop down and snatch their prey.

In that process, there have been an increased number of owl injuries and fatalities. Animals are going to go where the food is, and if the food is beside a busy highway, so be it.

Wildlife biologists are quick to point out though, that this is all still within normal parameters, and that owl populations in Maine are in no danger. It's all part of the deal. The best thing you can do, instead of chucking your edible trash out the window, is to maybe put some birdseed in your yard. That will attract mice and give the owls a safe space to seek out a meal.

So yeah.... Help the cute little, elusive owls near you. Besides, the only person that can help is...

Who? You, that's who.


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