It’s been a rough winter for owls—and the Vermont Institute of Natural Science says it’s mostly affecting young owls experiencing their first winter.
VINS takes in 600 wild birds a year to treat everything from vehicle strikes to orphaned nestlings.
Lead wildlife keeper Lauren Adams says the increase is likely due to a spring breeding boom and an abundance of rodents that saw more young owls survive into the winter.
That's led to older owls pushing younger birds out of good hunting grounds—forcing the younger owls to look for easier places to find food.
Those places include "roadsides, or more populated areas like neighborhoods or homes," Adams says.
"They’ll even go after roadkill. So they become more visible because they are pushed out to find better hunting territory."
Adams spoke to Vermont Edition about the other difficulties the young owls face and how human encroachment into owl habitat is also a factor.
Broadcast on Thursday, March 14, 2019 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.