Our Maine Owls – Friends of the Owls

You have arrived at the Home Page of the Northern Strigidae Watchers own Guide to Maine Owls. We wanted to provide an information site where anyone could go to learn about owls. As you’d expect owls pay no heed to state boundaries ( or country boundaries for that matter) so to proclaim an owl from Maine can sometimes be a bit of a stretch. So, thought there have been several species sighted in our state, our focus is on owls whose predominant habitat is Northern New England or a migratory home in their ‘off season’ (Such as the Snow Owl.)

Our site has info and some stories about the six species most common and that we have been able to identify and locate.We have talked about how we find and identify owls in Maine. Our group uses many strategies. In the pages ahead, you will meet our friends:

The Eastern Screech owl, Little Sir Tufts who the NSW personally rescued and transported him to the Chewonki Foundation.

The Snowy owl, named Snowy White, who got trapped in an abandoned building in Portland

The Great Horned owl, Bubo, who allegedly attacked pedestrians and cross-country skiers in a forest park in Bangor.

The Northern Saw-Whet owl, Teddy who lived a long and prosperous life beyond normal owl years.

The Barred owls, Mr. and Mrs. Strix and their young one, Booboo, for whom they acted as owl “foster parents”.

The Great Gray owl, Ruff, who showed up in a field in Jackson, Maine, was rescued but died a few days later.

Owls who make rare appearances in Maine but are on record of being observed:

Northern Hawk owl is a rare visitor and restricted to northernmost Maine and southern Canada.

The Long-Eared owl is sometimes found in coastal Maine. It is a quiet bird so it is really hard to find. When it vocalizes it produces doglike barks, catlike meows, and whistles.

The Boreal owl winters in the northern two thirds of Maine. The Boreal owl is also considered to be a rare and irregular visitor to Maine coming down from Quebec and the maritimes.

The Barn owl is small, only about 10 inches in height. It has a white, heart-shaped face, no ear turfts and dark eyes.  The plumage is golden with light underparts. There have only been confirmed sightings in southern most York County.

The Short-eared owl is found in primarily northern and eastern parts of Maine. These owls choose habitats that are open marshes or grassland. They are active day and night and hunt rodents by flying low over open ground.

Have you seen a Maine Owl?

The NSW use 4 ways to identify owls:

By sight- these owls have distinctive markings. Even the shapes of their heads can be different.  Some are tiny and some quite large.

By sound- again, their calls are very different but many have similar vocalizations. Listen closely and you will hear some subtle distinctions. We have provided clips of the sounds of all of these owls.

By Pellet size and contents – a pellet is a clod of fur, feathers and bone. Owls eat their prey whole and later regurgitate the solid  material. The bigger the owl, the bigger the pellet. If you find an owl pellet, you can dissect it by soaking it in warm water then examining the bones, teeth and other remains. You are sometimes lucky enough to identify the owl by the insect or animal it ate.

By Their Habits – we know that some owls are  more active at night, as opposed to day, day as opposed to night,. Great Gray owls have been known to prey on small dogs and cats or domestic house birds.

ALWAYS KEEP IN MIND THAT IT IS ILLEGAL FOR ANYONE TO INJURE, HARASS, KILL OR POSSESS a bird of prey.  It may be tempting if you find an injured owl to try to rehabilitate it yourself but the law does not allow this. The best place for an owl is with its’ Mama and if the Mama isn’t available or the owl is too injured to be released to the wild, it should be in the hands of a licensed rehabilitator.

I hope you enjoy our little guide to the Owls of Maine and that you will plan on joining for an outing one day. You do not know the thrill of being able to eyeball and identify specific owls. And what fun we have dissecting those pellets. Did I tell you to be sure to wash your hands!??