Our Maine Owl Club –
The Northern STRIGIDAE Watchers
We are a small group of owl enthusiasts who prowl spaces likely to be habitats for Maine owls. We have traveled from Fort Kent to Kittery. We are basically an “adventure” group – a fun group of individuals, some families, who love to prowl around the forests, ponds, wooded areas and anyplace else we might find a raptor. You’ll find us most often at dawn or dusk but we occasionally pull a “night shift” and go out between midnight and 4 a.m. to listen to and even record the calls made by one of the species of Maine owls. We like anything to do with owls and have attended pow-wows, wildlife rehabilitation centers, wildlife parks, numerous education programs and more. We have been blessed with many sightings.
The Northern Strigidae Watchers have traveled all over Maine although we are based in Scarborough. Some of our members are wildlife photographers and others consider themselves “naturalists”. As for me, Sean Bennett, I’m just someone who has always given a hoot about owls and love to see them in their natural habitats. I’ve been a member of the NSW going on 8 years and have personally witnessed owls in different habitats and even been along for a few rescue missions. We learn a lot and want to share that information with you. Every owl is just a little bit different but they all have things in common.
Some General Facts about the Owl- compiled by the NSW.
- All owls are raptors. (birds of prey) but the prey greatly varies.
- Owls are smaller than a human …that is something to consider if you encounter an owl in the wild. It is understandable that most owls consider humans to be big predators.
- Owls are much more sensitive to light than us humans. This is one of the reasons why most owls are nocturnal (they hunt at night). Some owls are active during the day but most work the night shift.
- Their eyes are pretty huge taking up about one-third of their head.
- If an owl wants to change his point of view he must turn its entire head! His eye balls do not move.
- Owls have acute hearing. They are particularly tuned into things like the rustling of leaves or the squeal of a mouse. Or me tripping over a log at 3 a.m. in the morning. Their ears are critical to how they hunt. They don’t have external ears like you or I. It might sounds strange but the arrangement of feathers around their face disk help to gather sounds waves and direct them to their ears. Their ears are at different levels which provide them with “binaural” hearing which the owl uses to locate its prey.
Never rescue and Owl without a Pro.
The NSW occasionally happen upon an injured or apparently abandoned owl. Together we decide whether or not the owl is in need of rescue. It’s not always a simple job but that is our credo.
If one of our visiting members happens to also be a game warden or perhaps even a wildlife rehabilitator, we rely on them to guide us. If not, we may make a call to one of the area’s wildlife rehabilitation centers and there are quite a few across Maine. We keep the York Wildlife Center phone number on hand as they can direct us to the closest wildlife rehab center in the event that we choose to “transport” the owl ourselves or call someone else to help. They can be reached at: 207- 354-2906. Not long ago we helped to rescue an Eastern Screech owl we named “Sir Tufts”.
Some of our members are part of a collaborative that does owl surveys. Like us, they go out in the dead of night (usually between midnight and 4 am) and complete surveys of the owls they hear at many different locations. Josh Herrick, whose 2nd job is an emergency room doctor, is one of 100 sleepy eyed surveyors who track owls by the sounds they make all over southern Maine.
MEET SOME OF OUR DEDICATED MEMBERS
David Richardson is an amateur wildlife photographer. He traveled with a few of us to Jackson, Maine where a Great Horned owl had been sighted in a field. We all kept our distance so as not to disturb the owl who we heard later was died after being rescue.
Susan Clukey is a grade school teacher at the Kennebunk Middle School. She goes along on many of our excursions but also invites Wildlife Educations from the York Wildlife Center to teach the children about owls and rescues.
Sean Bennett I’m just an ordinary folk looking to spend time outdoors in all kinds of weather and all times of day. My favorite trip was going up to Bangor to see if we could see what all the fuss about owls dive-bombing pedestrians in the city forest. We came prepared with umbrellas and hard hats and sure enough, one of those darn owls nearly knocked me off my feet. Still, it was one of my favorite trips.
Meg Clukey is our youngest member. She just turned 6 and got to see a Northern Saw Whet owl on her birthday.
Vicky Hanscom is our oldest member though she says she is only 38…again! Vicky no longer goes on excursions but will occasionally invite us over to sit on her porch and listen to her owl calls. She knows the distinct calls of over 30 owls. Very impressive, Vicky!
Doug Pratt, our “director” but none of us, including Doug, seem to know what that means. He helps to organize our trips, gathers information about educational workshops, occasionally becomes involved in tracking owls working beside the rehabilitators and overall, Doug keeps us in line. Doug’s daughter Iris has just recently joined us and went out on her first “night shift” just a few weeks ago.
Josh Herrick although he is a “people-doctor,” he occasionally steps in to help an injured owl. One day we found a Screech Owl that had injured his leg on a wire fence. First thing we did is call a Wildlife Rehabilitation program who told Josh, over the phone, how to safely free the owl and transport him to their program. We always carry “rescue kits” and one of them sure came in handy that day. Josh Herrick was that little guy’s hero. He has a great sense of humor, don’t you think?
We welcome new members at all times. You can be a nature photographer, a “citizen naturalist”, a student, a teacher or simply ordinary folks looking for an interesting hobby and way to spend some time cavorting with nature.
Leave us a message if you’d like to join our mailing list and keep up-to-date on our News and Outings.