Curlew Lower Columbia Basin Audubon Society

Burrowing Owl Project

Written by Charlotte Reep, Project Chair
Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owls

                  Pair of Nesting Burrowing Owls March 2006
                                                                                                                                            Photo by Lisa Richmond

Lower Columbia Basin Audubon has had a Burrowing Owl project for seven years.  This has included installing artificial burrows on public and (with permission) private land, working closely with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) with research scientists.

Presentations were given to school classrooms and to community officials on research findings and future plans..  The increasing destruction of their natural burrows, even with the addition of artificial burrows, has reached the point where there is danger of losing the battle against extinction of this unique species.  The committee, Dr. Courtney Conway’s research team, and WDFW have met with city and county officials a number of times to explain and request help in protecting natural habitat.  Often, when a burrow -- sometimes with young inside -- is destroyed, related officials plead ignorance.  There is a need for the caring public to call, write, or talk to local and regional officials and tell them you want protection for Burrowing Owl habitat before it is all gone. Open land is critical and is in adherence to Critical Areas ordinances, which is part of the Growth Management Act. Our human quality of life is affected when we lose open areas to commercial development, and layers of concrete and asphalt with no concern for habitat destruction.

 

Some good news is that the Burrowing Owl web page has been developed and is available as a communications device to the public.  Through the work of photographer Gaylord Mink, Mike Livingston of WDFW, and generous contributions of other photos by citizens, the website presents a quantity of information.  Future plans are to make use of a live web camera linked to an inhabited site.  This will be an ongoing project to further the conservation of Burrowing Owls and other shrub steppe dependent species.  The address is http://wdfw.wa.gov/wildwatch/owlcam/


There appears to be no funding for Dr. Conway's project to send a team to this area this year, which is regrettable.  Past efforts have resulted in monitoring, banding and researching the habits, life, and needs of Burrowing Owls.  The survival of this special owl depends on continued collection of information from the past and future years of research to help it survive.  It is hoped that funds can be found.

Owl Burrow
Two volunteers place artificial nest box into newly dug trench

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