[Ontbirds] Hawk Owl Update and Viewing Rules

Lynne Freeman lynnef.to at gmail.com
Thu Dec 19 16:12:23 EST 2019

Hello Birders,

This is the latest news from Schomberg on the Hawk Owl situation. As most
of us are aware, the large number of observers who've gone to see the owl
has caused unsafe conditions for all concerned.

The town of Schomberg consulted with the MNR, the York Regional Police, the
group managing the marsh (which is protected land) and others. They have
put the following  measures in place to ensure the safety of all concerned
so we can continue to enjoy this marvelous bird.

1.    Parking is not allowed on the road adjacent to the owl. Please
respect the no-parking signs. Short-term parking is available at nearby
local malls but be mindful that this is the busiest shopping season of the
year and merchants need to ensure that there is parking space for their

2.    Observers can easily view the owl from the road. Space has been freed
up for observers because parking has been moved elsewhere.

3. The marsh where the owl is hunting is protected habitat. Observers are
asked not to trespass on the marsh.

4.    Observers should obey the usual road safety rules. Do not stand or
setup tripods in the middle of the road. Do not run after the owl if it
crosses the road. This is unsafe and likely not great for the owl as it
tries to hunt.

We've heard reports of baiting. I know there's a lot of debate as to
whether this harms owls but baiting near a busy road is probably not a good
idea because of the risk of an owl traffic accident.

The situation seems to be under control for now. Today there were about 20
observers, and all followed the rules. Great news! Needless to say, the
town and York Regional Police will be monitoring the area to ensure that
the safety measures are followed.

In my opinion, the town has been exemplary in its desire to accommodate
visitors while ensuring the safety of the owl, observers and people using
the road. As you can all imagine, the popularity of this owl has been a big
surprise for the town!

Good Birding and Happy Holidays,


Lynne Freeman

OFO President

lynnef.to at gmail.com

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