What a privilege to witness the release of two snowy owls on Fisherman's Island. One flew east and one went north. The east flyer landed on a roof top, looking around, maybe hoping to reunite with its partner. It was promptly greeted by dive bombing crows, but did seem to fend off the attack, as far as we could tell.
The birds were nursed back to good health at Avian Haven in Freedom. They became a “couple” actually, meeting during rehabilitation, which is why they were released together. The thought was (and still is) that they would be able to continue their relationship on their trip home. We can only hope.
Avian Haven is a very busy but extremely caring facility run by Marc Payne and Diane Winn and helped by many volunteers and support staff. Their website, www.avianhaven.org indicates that their annual case load has grown from around 300 to about 2,000. Over the life of the organizations they have treated some 15,000 birds from more than 100 species, making them one of the largest rehabilitation facilities in the northeast.
The snowys were delivered by Pep and Carol Jones, devoted volunteers from Bremen. They make runs all over Maine to pick up and deliver birds that have been injured. What is nice though, is that they also transport rehabilitated birds for their release into the wild. I have no idea how many times they have helped Avian Haven with transports, but I know they are quite active.
The two birds we watched take off were very healthy. They did not dillydally. The one I was able to photograph did not hesitate long. We had no idea which way the birds would go. Photographically, it was mostly good luck that the bird took the course it did and I happened to be within its flight path. I preset everything on the camera that I could, i.e., focus, depth of field, shutter speed, and exposure, hoping that it would fly through the “zone.” The above photo worked. I also got remarkably perfect images of blank blue sky.