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Winter Visitors From The North

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This article was sent into from our own local veterinarian Dr. Scott Pendleton.

Winter Visitors from the North

One of nature’s more interesting displays is currently playing in Harrison County. From their breeding grounds in Canada, Short-eared Owls (Asio flammeus) are overwintering here in substantial numbers. It has been eleven years since there have been significant numbers in the county. All owls are crowd favorites but what makes Short-eared Owls especially interesting is they are crepuscular. That is, they hunt at dusk and dawn, allowing us to admire their hunting prowess.

One good thing surface mining has done is to leave behind thousands of acres of grasslands. Amongst this grass is a thriving ecosystem, even in winter. Small mammals, mainly voles, are constantly on the move in the grass and beneath the snow. Occasionally they pop their heads up and become owl food or hawk food. There is enough food to support several species of northern vacationers.

What to look for? Go to a large area of knee high grass at 4:30 in the afternoon. Park your car where you can see a fairly large area and wait. You are likely to see three species. If the grass is a little shorter, there may be a Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus). She will be a little higher (30-50 feet) off the ground and have a larger body with large dark area on the under wing at the wrist. Lower to the ground (5-20 feet) will be the Short-eared Owls and the Northern Harriers (Circus cyaneus). The owl will have an owl face and head and have generally brown color to its back with small dark stripes at the wrist. The Harriers will be grayish with a clean under wing and a large white area at the base of the back.

Where to go? Industry parkway is Rough-legged Hawk central and they can be seen all day. There are also Harriers hunting this area. Behind Gold Star Kennels, especially in the valley where the lake is, owls have been seen several times. The owls have also been seen between Nottingham Church and Moorefield on both sides of US 22 where the land has recently been reclaimed. The best place to observe the owls and Harriers is Hite Rd. just west of New Athens on SR 519, as many as nine have been seen here at one time. It is the first road to the left after leaving New Athens. If you pass Stumptown, you have gone too far. Travel 100-200 yards and park.

The owls are a little hit and miss and may not be seen every evening, but they are worth the effort. Lastly, if there are several hunting in the same area, roll down your window,
they occasionally squabble. They should be with us into mid-February.

Dr. Scott Pendleton of the Cadiz Animal Clinic,
43255 Airport Road, Cadiz, Ohio 43907
Telephone: 740.942.3267

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Larry Bertolino

Larry Bertolino

Owner at myLocalPCpro
Larry Bertolino is a 31 year old, U.S Navy Veteran and currently sitting on the board of Directors for the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce, as well as Harrison County Rural Transit.
Larry Bertolino
Larry Bertolino

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Posted by on January 18, 2011, 7:59 am. Filed under Featured, ThisIsMyCounty. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry