Pennsylvania Game Commission Confirms Barn Owl in Washington County
Article Date: 2011-11-17 Source: http://www.prnewswire.com
Bolivar, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. - Pennsylvania Game Commission biologists have confirmed the presence of a barn owl on a farm near Washington, Washington County, for the first time in nearly a decade.
Once a common bird on Pennsylvania farms, barn owls have been declining in
Pennsylvania and across the United States. While several barn owls nested in the
state's southwest corner during the first Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas,
which covered the period of 1984-89, none were recorded in the area in the most
recent Breeding Bird Atlas, which was conducted from 2004-09.
"Loss of habitats, changes in farming practices, and loss of nest sites are the
main reasons for the drop in barn owl numbers," said Tammy Colt, Game Commission
Regional Wildlife Diversity Biologist. "Barn owls usually nest in barns, silos
and hollow trees, and they eat small mammals, primarily voles, mice and shrews.
A barn owl can eat two to three small rodents per day, so barn owls are great
pest control agents! They very rarely eat birds and are therefore no threat to
chickens, ducks, pheasants or turkeys."
The most exciting thing about the barn owl that is living in Washington is the
fact that it is wearing a leg band, which enables biologists to identify where
the bird originated. Working with biologists in surrounding states, it has been
determined the owl came from northeastern Ohio.
"This find provides more evidence that barn owls are very mobile and are capable
of colonizing new sites where grassland habitat and nest sites are available,"
said Doug Gross, Game Commission ornithologist. "There really is no need to
raise barn owls and release them someplace. If you have habitat, they will come;
they are quite capable."
In 2005, the Game Commission began a Barn Owl Conservation Initiative to learn
more about the state's barn owls and to increase their numbers. Through this
effort, the Game Commission identified more than 135 nest sites, mostly in the
southeast and southcentral areas of the state. As part of the initiative, agency
personnel banded hundreds of barn owls, primarily nestlings, and installed many
"Hopefully, the owl near Washington will take up permanent residence," Colt
said. "To that end, the Moraine Preservation Fund has donated and installed two
nest boxes on the farm."
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