Should I Feed Snowy Owls?


Our answer to this is an emphatic NO

There are lots of reasons why we don’t recommend attempting to feed snowy owls, or use mice to bait them for photography.

The owls don’t need it

They are accustomed to hunting for their own food. These birds are predators, and in the vast majority of cases are in perfectly good health. They are perfectly capable of finding their own food. The notion that snowy owls routinely starve wintering down here is a myth, refuted by years of research. You’ll rarely see them hunting in daytime not because they are sick or unable to find food, but because – like most owls – they prefer to hunt at night.

 

Mice could carry pathogens or chemicals the owls could be sensitive to

Store-bought mice may carry a range of pathogens that the immune system of snowy owls are not accustomed to.

 

It habituates them to people…THE BIGGEST DANGER

Snowy owls have limited natural fear of humans to begin with, and feeding them can quickly habituate them to people, causing them to associate humans and food. This can bring them dangerously close to people who may harm them, or lure them to places like busy roads or neighborhoods where there’s a risk of collision with vehicles – another danger with which they have no experience. ¬†Artificial feeding may also encourage them to stay around in areas where there is limited natural food.

 

If an owl is truly in need of assistance…

If you suspect that a snowy owl is not doing well, you should instead contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center or wildlife agency. An expert can then assess whether the owl needs help and, if so, is trained to offer it.