The monkey-like face of the barn owl was once a common sight. As many farms shifted focus from livestock to row crops, the owl’s hayfield hunting grounds shrank and the old barns they called home were falling to more efficient steel buildings.
These shifts concerned wildlife professionals and a conservation plan was formulated to try to improve the chances for these mouse-eating aviators.
The Ohio Division of Wildlife has provided shelter for barn owls since 1988 by placing nest boxes on more than 400 barns. This offers barn owls a nest in barns they couldn’t enter.
The number of nests has increased from 19 at the beginning of the program to more than 100 in 2012.
The barn owl’s success story continued last summer. The state counted 82 nests in 190 nest boxes, the third-highest number since Ohio’s barn owl nest box program began. The public reported 22 more confirmed barn owl observations in 15 counties, the highest number of reports received.
The agency continues to track barn owl nests and bird observations. They can be reported to the Division of Wildlife at 1-800-WILDLIFE (945-3543) or email email@example.com.
Barn owls begin laying eggs in late April to early May with young hatching about a month later. The summer is the best time observe the owls as they frequently return to their nest to feed young, and will often spend the day on or near the nest.
Barn owls are easily identified by their white, heart-shaped face, large black eyes, and golden brown and gray back. Adults communicate with shrieks and hissing-like calls, while young barn owls begging their parents for food are often heard on late summer nights. Finding pellets is another indication that barn owls may be living nearby.
A pair of barn owls and their young can eat more than 1,000 rodents in one year. As their name suggests, barn owls find shelter in barns, abandoned buildings and silos.
For your own nesting box ideas, visit: www.barnowlbox.com.
Along the Way:
A new online tool is available offering 100 beneficial management practices aimed at ranchers, conservation organizations, government and academic institutions in North America.
Ranging from local techniques to national and continental approaches, the tool contains a wealth of practical and innovative ideas for conserving and restoring native grasslands and boosting the economic stability of ranchers. To access the tool, visit: www.cec.org/grasslands.
With the online tool, best practices can be searched geographically or thematically according to eight management categories, such as grazing management, water resource management, and invasive species and pest management.
It also contains a “Featured Stories” section, with inspiring examples of those who are using these techniques to conserve grasslands and improve their economic bottom line.
In its “Overarching Practices” section, high-level guidance is offered to assist ranchers, conservationists, and policymakers in making sound management decisions that achieve both economic and conservation objectives.
Available in English, French and Spanish, it also features a glossary of terms and a resources section.
• Tomorrow: Mixed target archery shoot. Field and Stream Bowhunters, 11400 Allen Township 109, Findlay. Contact: 419-422-6756.
Field and Stream is the only club in Hancock County offering organized field archery competition. A great place to sharpen your competitive and field skills. Their schedule includes May 18, June 22, July 27, Aug. 24 and Sept. 21. Registration begins at 8 a.m.
• Tuesday: Women on Target, 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., HCCL, 13748 Jackson Township 168, Findlay.
• Thursday-Friday: Trap and skeet, open to the public at 5 p.m. UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
Abrams is a retired wildlife officer supervisor for the state Division of Wildlife in Findlay. He can be reached at P.O. Box 413, Mount Blanchard, OH 45867-0413 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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