An injured snowy owl is treated at the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society in Delta.

Snowy owls going hungry in Delta

The Arctic owls are among many malnourished birds of prey according to wildlife society

Delta’s foremost wildlife rescue agency for birds says the majestic snowy owls that have captivated the hearts of bird lovers are dying from starvation. And part of that is our fault.

“We’ve had calls from all over, we’ve had a few shipped in to us that haven’t made it,” says Bev Day, founding director of the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society. “They’re basically starving.”

A large number of snowy owls migrated south to the Lower Mainland from the high Arctic for the second year in a row, and have been visible in large numbers in Boundary Bay at the base of 64th and 72nd streets.

But the birds don’t appear to be doing very well. Day says rehabilitating the owls is “touch-and-go” and likened their condition to anorexia. When they come in they have to be fed frequently, but in small portions.

“What happens with a bird of prey is when they’re starting to starve and not getting enough food, they actually are eating off their own bodies.”

Day believes the birds arrived late in the season because of warm weather conditions in the Arctic and it has caused many to go hungry as a result.

Although food is more plentiful in Boundary Bay and surrounding areas, Day says it is human encroachment that is likely the cause of their continued deterioration.

“I know photography is a million, billion dollar industry, but you’ve got these people with these huge frikkin lenses—and I could say something else but I’ll just say frikkin—and they try and get down on the foreshore and they’re right in the birds’ faces.”

Day once saw a woman set her dog on an owl so she could get a picture of it in flight. Says she can’t even go down to the dike because what she sees upsets her.

Not only does disturbing the owls cause them to lose energy and heat, Day says it encroaches on time they should be spending hunting mice.

But Day says the birds have likely moved on from southern B.C. into the northern regions of the U.S., as far south as California.

“Last week at one point there were 30 snowys counted. Two days later there was only five on the shore.”

O.W.L. currently has one snowy in captivity that was hit by a car. They are treating the injuries and hope to rehabilitate the bird for rerelease into the wild, as they do for hundreds of birds every year.

The shelter has a record 470 birds in care at present, and the condition of other raptors are markedly similar to the snowy owls.

Donations can be made to O.W.L. for the care and rehabilitation of wildlife. For more information, visit owlcanada.ca.

Just Posted

B.C. serves up $6.3 million boost to province’s respite program

The announcement, in Surrey, aims to give parents of special needs children a break

Schedule released for South Surrey-hosted Americas Olympic Softball Qualifier

Canadian national women’s fastpitch team to open tournament against Cuba

Biting and jumping are paw-sitives when raising a police dog puppy

18-week-old Maya is training with Delta police to one day take a bite out of crime

OUR VIEW: Sometimes, Surrey, it’s hard not to get riled by rules

Imagine life without rules. We wouldn’t have to pay taxes, or eat our broccoli

Nominate someone now for 2019 Surrey Community Leader Awards

Easy online form for nominations in 11 categories, with reception planned this fall

Rents in most Canadian cities are unaffordable for lower-income earners: study

Roughly one-third of households, or 4.7 million, are renters

B.C. government seeks advice on reviving Interior forest industry

Public website opens as meetings start with community leaders

RCMP use helicopter and police dog to search for suspect on Sts’ailes First Nation

Small reserve near Agassiz surrounded by police vehicles, helicopter, ERT

North Delta happenings: week of July 18

Events and community listings for North Delta

Missing Vancouver Island woman believed to be on mainland

Rhonda Stevenson, 43, last seen July 13 in central Nanaimo

Psychics, drones being used to search for missing Chilliwack woman with dementia

Drones, psychics, dogs and more have been employed to help find Grace Baranyk, 86

Missing Greater Victoria man last seen in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

Jonah Donato, 40, travelled to the mainland in June

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

Most Read