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Give a hoot: it’s owl season in Winnipeg

Great Horned Owl With Mouse. Global News / File

Owls are on the prowl in Winnipeg.

According to Fort Whyte Alive’s ecotourism coordinator, we’re in peak season to hear and see the majestic birds in Manitoba — especially the great horned owl.

Barrett Miller said that although it is the time of year when they’re more frequently seen and heard, the owl phenomenon in the city might be caused, in part, by humans being less distracted due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“I think it might be a combination. … Us humans are still in a place where there’s not as much going on in our world. We’re outside a lot more than we would be in a normal winter, so we’re seeing what’s around in our neighbourhoods.”

Miller said the owls are generally comfortable living alongside humans in areas like Winnipeg, and as it’s currently nesting season for the great horned variety, they’re very vocal and visible at dawn and dusk.

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Read more: Humans self-isolating due to coronavirus a ‘bonanza’ for Manitoba wildlife

Whenever owls are about, there are often concerns about the safety of small pets and other animals.

“When you let a small pet out at night, you should always do a scan around, what’s on the ground and what’s in the trees or shrubs,” Miller told 680 CJOB.

“That’s for the animal’s protection, not just from owls, but from just about anything that may want to hurt the animal or the animal may want to try to play with.

“In terms of our own safety around owls, if you see an owl, just give it space. We’re too big for them to hunt, … but they can feel scared of us or a little territorial, so don’t get too close.”

Miller said “owl etiquette” is to not share the exact location of one of the birds with other people — it’s OK to talk about a general spot where an owl might be, but there’s a danger that too many people could gather at, say, the foot of a tree, and end up scaring the owls away — potentially from a nest with eggs.

Click to play video: 'Owl increase: Why more owls are in southern Ontario this winter' Owl increase: Why more owls are in southern Ontario this winter
Owl increase: Why more owls are in southern Ontario this winter – Feb 25, 2021

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