Connecticut Audbon Society

How to behave when watching an owl

Barred Owl photo by Tomas Koeck.

Follow these three basic rules no matter which owl — Barred, Snowy, Northern Saw-whet, etc. (borrowed from Project SNOWStorm)

  • Keep your distance
  • Respect private property
  • Don’t feed an owl, ever.

We’re quoting at length from Project SNOWStorm.

Keep your distance:
“This is the first and most important rule. Just because the owl may tolerate a fairly close approach doesn’t mean you should push the envelope. If the owl is visibly reacting to your presence — fidgeting, repeatedly staring at you, head-bobbing or changing position — you’re too close, and need to back off immediately.

“Needless to say, if you’ve flushed the owl you were far too close — and you need to seriously reconsider your behavior next time.”

Keep your distance from an owl nest in particular. Human disturbance and scent can attract predators.

Respect Private Property

“Many landowners who host … owls report problems with visitors ignoring common courtesy (and sometimes even obvious “No Trespassing” signs) to get close to owls. Do not cross private property without permission. …  Obey all closure or off-limits signs.”

Never feed an owl
“One of the most damaging things anyone can do (usually to attract the bird for a close-up photo, but sometimes out of a misplaced belief that the owl is starving) is to feed an … owl. … Once they associate people with food, the owls are drawn into dangerous situations, such as swooping close to roads. They may also approach people who may harm them, either from fear and ignorance, or from malice.”






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