Giving a hoot for owls

5806242792Over the last few posts, I’ve outlined the situation facing several owl species in decline- in general, although there are other factors with influence, the major culprits are habitat change and habitat loss. Since human populations often value the same areas used by owls, sometimes more for what they could be rather than for what they are, there is bound to be conflict between both groups. But there are also ways that we can contribute directly to owl conservation and make things a bit easier for our feathered friends.

Many management and conservation organizations want your help in locating owls in your community:

            -The Urban Bird Foundation is looking for Burrowing Owls in California

            -The British Trust for Ornithology can always use help with bird surveys

            -The Pennsylvania Barn Owl Conservation Initiative wants to know where Barn Owls are hanging out

            -As I’ve mentioned before, eBird collects information on bird sightings from all over and then uses this information to assess population trends- whether you see an owl or hummingbird or something in between, they would love your input

For those of you looking to get more involved in owl conservation, there are opportunities to volunteer at office tasks and educational events (check out Conservation Northwest), helping with owl reintroduction programs (Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of BC, Wild At Heart), and assisting injured owls (Owl Foundation and the Avian Conservation Center).

You can also play a part in ensuring that owls have the habitat they need to survive:

            -The Center for Biological Diversity has a current petition to make sure that Forest Service plans to manage the Coronado National Forest provide adequate protection for Mexican Spotted Owls and other species living in the forest (they would like you to sign the petition by March 6)

            -Give owls a chance to share your space by putting up a nesting box and managing your property to provide the habitat they are looking for

                        Barn Owls: nest box design from the PA Barn Owl Conservation Initiative, description of habitat needs from the Barn Owl Conservation Network

                        Barred Owls: nest box design from the PA Barn Owl Conservation Initiative, general information on living with owls from the Missouri Department of Conservation

                        Burrowing Owls: learn how to attract them from the FL Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission

                        Screech Owls: nest box design from the Owl Foundation

Owls are majestic animals and skilled hunters. Many species also seem to do reasonably well within human landscapes provided we take their needs into account as well as our own. By protecting vital habitat and finding novel ways to coexist, we can help those species that are in decline to recover, but it will take effort from all of us. Hopefully the ideas here will get you started, and I’ve probably just scratched the surface.