PEI

Snowy owl brings excitement, sadness to P.E.I. woman

A rare sighting of a snowy owl that made a P.E.I. animal lover shake with excitement ended with her in tears the next day when she was told it had died of starvation.

'I was so excited I literally started to shake,' April Adams said

The snowy owl was perched on a dune near the Covehead lighthouse last Saturday. (April Adams)

A rare sighting of a snowy owl that made a P.E.I. animal lover shake with excitement ended with her in tears the next day when she was told it had died of starvation.

April Adams, who lives in Covehead, had read on social media about a snowy owl in PEI National Park. On a whim, she grabbed her camera and hopped in her car with no expectations she would find it.

But as she approached the lighthouse by the Covehead bridge last Saturday, there it was, perched in the dune.

"I was so excited I literally started to shake," she said. "It was just unreal. I couldn't believe my eyes."

It was just unreal. I couldn't believe my eyes.— April Adams

But, as she sat in the car and focused her long lens on the owl, she could see something wasn't right.

"I thought maybe it was the rain. It rained all night and she looked pretty miserable."

Adams thought it was a good sign when she went back that night and the owl was gone. She assumed it must have flown away.

But the next morning her neighbour told her she saw the owl on the side of the road, lifeless.

"I cried all morning," Adams said.

April Adams says she knew there was something wrong when she zoomed in on the owl from her car. (April Adams)

After reporting it to the Department of Wildlife, she went back to remove the owl from the side of the road. When she arrived, she said a woman from the Atlantic Veterinary College was already there, putting the owl in her trunk.

Adams asked the woman if she could follow up with her when she knew more information, such as the cause of death.

Adams said she got an email from the woman the next day.

There was not a drop of food in its tummy.— April Adams

"The poor thing was emaciated which, basically, it starved to death," Adams said. "There was not a drop of food in its tummy. So it was pretty sad."

Wildlife officials have told CBC in the past that, generally, only a handful of snowy owls are seen on P.E.I. in a year. They breed in the Arctic and make their way south in search of food such as lemmings.

Though there was no happy ending for the Covehead owl, it was a memory Adams said she won't soon forget. 

"It's not something you see every day," Adams said. "I've heard of reports of one being here two years ago and I went looking for it and never found it. I love owls to begin with, and just to see one in real life, it was just amazing. They are so beautiful."

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