Spotted Owl In Bend Dies, Leaving A Large Family Behind
Article Date: 2011-11-07 Source: http://news.opb.org
By Amelia Templeton
Bend, Oregon, U.S.A. - The Bend High Desert Museum announced that its spotted owl, Polka, died of old age. He spent the last years of his long life roosting high in an old growth snag made of concrete, behind a thick wall of bullet proof glass. And unlike most spotted owls in captivity, he fathered many offspring.
Polka was one of only a few dozen spotted owls kept in captivity and one of just
two pairs to successfully hatch chicks. Jim Dawson, the curator of living
collections at the high desert museum, thinks its time to start a serious
captive breeding effort to aid in spotted owl recovery. Captive breeding isn't
part of the species' current recovery plan, and it remains controversial.
Polka was a rehab bird, injured by biologists during a banding study. He bonded
with a captive female owl with a broken wing named Dot, and the pair eventually
produced eight chicks. Dot died last last year.
Biologists aren't sure why Polka and Dot reproduced so enthusiastically in
captivity, or why other captive spotted owl pairs have been unsuccessful. Dawson
says raptors are notoriously hard to breed.
''The pair, when they go into breeding mode, gets very territorial and they're
very nervous about their nest site. You want them to focus on each other,'' he
Eric Forsman, a leading spotted owl biologist who captured Polka and Dot, says
the trick may simply be finding pairs of owls that are compatible with each
other, trying with a larger sample of owls. But like many scientists, he's
skeptical captive breeding can help save the species.
''We haven't attempted it with very many individuals…I think given enough time
and practice, we could probably breed spotted owls in captivity, but I'm not
sure that's the solution to our problem,'' the U.S. Forest Service wildlife
The problem, Forsman says, is that even if you could increase owl numbers in
captivity, the limited old-growth habitat available in the wild is increasingly
being taken over by larger barred owls. And barred owls may wind up being much
harder to remove from the landscape than threats like lead or DDT, which pushed
the California Condor and Peregrine falcon to the brink.
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2009-01-28 - Spotted owl chicks on view a few more days by Terry Richard - Bend, Oregon, U.S.A.
2007-10-02 - Forest Service withdraws plan to log owl habitat burned in 2006 by Jeff Barnard - Bend, Oregon, U.S.A.
2005-07-05 - Fires ravage habitat for spotted owl by Rachel Odell - Bend, Oregon, U.S.A.
2005-02-13 - Rare owl has birders flocking to Bend by Matthew Preusch - Bend, Oregon, U.S.A.
2005-02-08 - Northern Hawk Owl makes rare local appearance - Bend, Oregon, U.S.A.
2004-03-27 - Spotted owl hatches two more by Rachel Odell - Bend, Oregon, U.S.A.
2004-03-26 - Museum welcomes spotted-owl babies - again - Bend, Oregon, U.S.A.
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