Skroski named the owl Percy, a nod to the surname with deep roots in Phippsburg. Photo courtesy of Caroline Skroski

PHIPPSBURG — Percy, a snowy owl rescued by Phippsburg Police Chief John Skroski died shortly after being admitted to Avian Haven, a wild bird rehabilitation center in Freedom, last Thursday.

Diane Winn, executive director of Avian Haven, said the exact cause of death is unknown, but the body was sent to Project Snowstorm, a snowy owl research organization.

Winn said the bird was emaciated when it arrived and an X-ray revealed soft tissue damage to the left wing and organ damage consistent with a traumatic impact. She said the bird was most likely struck by a car, a common cause of death for owls.

Winn said owls are attracted to roadways when people litter.

“When people throw food from their cars it attracts mice to the roads,” said Winn. “Owls are hunting near roads at night because that’s where the mice are. It isn’t the only explanation as to why owls get hit by cars, but it is one explanation.”

Though the owl didn’t survive, Skroski said he’s thankful he had the opportunity to help the injured bird and is touched at the response it stirred in the community.

“This job at times can get very discouraging,” said Skroski. “I’ve been stopped on patrol several times since then by people commenting on the bird. It has been good for community policing because we’ve been able to find those common bonds and interests rather than focusing on all the other stressors in life right now.”

Skroski said he hopes Percy’s story will encourage people to keep the roads clear of litter and to be aware of how their actions impact Maine’s wildlife.

“I’m grateful for that experience and hopefully we can all do our part to help birds in their habitats,” he said. “We all play a part in the ecosystem. Whether they’re a snowy owl, a barred owl or a blue jay, they all have a place here and we can learn something from them.”

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