CUZNER IN NATURE: Rare sighting of a short-eared owl

I captured this image of a short-eared owl a while back at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. I don’t come across too many of these owls in my travels.

 Photographer Rick Cuzner captured this image of a rare short-eared owl at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newbury. The owl is an endangered species in the state.

When I heard one was in the area, I went on a mission to find it. I hiked in about 3 1/2 miles on a dirt road that had been closed to vehicles because of excessive ice and erosion. The reward was certainly worth it. I spent about an hour watching the owl hunt in an open field, landing in very close proximity to the road several times.

The short-eared owl is an endangered species in Massachusetts, with only 20-25 breeding pairs remaining in the state. It nests and roosts on the ground in coastal grasslands and heathlands. This medium-sized owl has brown plumage streaked with buffy white. It is most active during daytime hours.

The biggest threat facing the short-eared owl is habitat loss as its breeding areas are developed. Females lay eggs in April and the young fledge after two weeks. The owls feed mainly on meadow voles. Some migrate south in late summer while others from farther north winter in Massachusetts.

The Marblehead Current is proud to partner with photographer Rick Cuzner. For the past 15 years, he has taken thousands of nature photographs that capture the wild animals in Massachusetts.

Rick Cuzner
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