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Burrowing Owl | Athene cunicularia | Chevêche des terriers | by Paul B Jones
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Burrowing Owl | Athene cunicularia | Chevêche des terriers

This is the second Burrowing Owl record for the province of New Brunswick - so a very rare bird! Discovered in early August, it is still around as of September 11, having settled in to a new home on the sea wall at Castalia Marsh on Grand Manan Island.


There is some debate about the origin on the bird, whether it is from the Florida/Caribbean population or from western North America. My guess is that it is from the west, as that group is migratory and has occasionally sent birds east. Only a DNA test would determine the issue with certainty.


There was also fairly heated discussion about the impact of photographers on the owl's welfare. By the time of my arrival on the island it had already been present for at least a week and a half, occupying a very busy spot beside a road, parking lot, picnic ground and dog-walking beach. I strolled up to it early on a very foggy morning, assessed that it wasn't perturbed by my presence (I had to wait a while for it to look towards me) and took a few pictures. I returned a couple days later and secured some video. It seems to have survived the ordeal.


A bigger test will be the onset of winter. If it thinks it is in Mexico and plans to stay until next April, it is in for a bit of a surprise. Maybe it can be netted and relocated south once the bad weather arrives and its condition shows signs of deteriorating.


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Taken on August 15, 2017