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Lewes, Delaware
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November 15, 2002     Cape Gazette
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November 15, 2002
 

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-IV CAPE GAZETTE, Fr/da Nov. 15 - Nov. 21, 2002 - 39 Big question: Can Harry Potter save the is? You don't have to be a wizard to lation trends. Because owls are lead fans to buy owls as pets. It is After eating their prey whole, movie that are found in Delaware catch sight of a real life snowy migratory, the Conservancy is al- illegal in the United States to own owls regurgitate pieces of bone are short-eared owls, screech owls owl just like Harry Potter's am- so working with scientists to mon- owls, but it is legal in some other and fur, making feeding and and great horned owls. Short- bet-eyed pet Hedwig or any of the itor the flight paths of owls to bet- countries, cleaning up after an owl a rather eared owls can often be seen hunt- other owl species used to deliver ter determine what lands should Scientists warn that owls are not unpleasant experience, ing at dusk over the bayshore salt mail for Potter's friends at Hog- be protected to save the birds. In always as friendly to humans as Rather than trying to own an marshes or cruising over short wart's School of W'mardry. Maryland, scientists set up night- they appear in the movies. "They owl, it is best to see them in the grass fields at Dover Air Force The much anticipated "Harry time nets during the fall months to are predators, birds of prey," Dun- wild. Snowy owls like Harry Pot- Base. Screech owls like to nest in Potter and the Chamber of Se- catch saw-whet owls so they can can said. "We need to remind pep- ter's beloved Hedwig are some- wood duck boxes or tree cavities. crets" movie, the latest in the Har- be tagged and their migratory ple that this movie is a fantasy, times seen in Delaware in the win- Great homed owls nest in the win- ry Potter series due in theaters paths tracked. Owls tagged in However beautiful and powerful ter. Unlike most owls, snowy owls ter at the Conservancy's Edward Nov. 15, features a wide variety of Maryland have been found in owls are, they are not suitable as hunt during the day. The Nature H. McCabe Preserve near Milton. owls helping out their wizard Florida, Wiscomin, Michigan and pets." Conservancy's Port Mahon Pre- A list of more than 100 species of owners. But while nonwizards can Maine. The eating habits of owls also serve, as well as Bombay Hook owls and other birds that can be see many of these owls in forests While the Harry Potter phenom- make them difficult to care for. National Wildlife Refuge and seen at this preserve throughout and prairies across the United enon is helping to educate people Skilled hunters, owls feed on Cape Henlopen are all good the year can be downloaded from States, growing threats to owl to the threats to owl habitat, there small mammals such as rabbits, places to look for snowy owls. the Delaware chapter's website, habitat - such as overdevelopment is concern that the craze could mice, fish and marine mammals, Other species featured in the nature.org/delaware. and the disappearance of old growth trees - are making it harder and harder to spot these spectacu- lar creatures in the wild. There are 19 species of owls that inhabit North America, rang- ing from the tiny elf owl, which stands less than six inches tall, to the great gray owl, nearly 30 inch- es tall with a wingspan of more than 50 inches. Both of these species are featured as the pets of Potter and his friends. Together with government agencies such as DNREC, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Nature Conservancy is protecting landscapes that are critical to declining bird popula- tions. Scientists working to protect owls hope the Harry Potter craze will spark a renewed interest in conserving owl habitat across the country. Owl populations are on the decline, scientists say, due largely to destruction of their habitat. "Human population growth and development is destroying much : :: :: of the owls' natural habitat," said Charles Duncan, a conservation ornithologist with the Nature Con- servancy. "Clear cutting has also reduced the number of trees that would otherwise have grown old Mac Stevens, Lead Cable Splicer, Conectiv Power Delivery enough to develop cavities in which owls could nest." liable In Delaware, many barn owls R e now depend on nesting boxes erected near wildlife areas. 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