Audubon North Carolina has 10 amazing chapters across the state who help put a local focus on bird preservation and conservation issues. In this special blog series, we’ll focus on a chapter each month to learn more about their history, what they are working on, and to increase the statewide understanding of special ecosystems and habitats. Each month will include a series of posts about each chapter including a post from our biologists that will share a unique research project that is happening in the chapter’s geographic footprint.
This month, we get to know New Hope Audubon http://www.newhopeaudubon.org/ Read on to learn more about our chapter serving Chatham, Durham and Orange counties in the Piedmont.
Beginning in late 2012, the New Hope Audubon Society, led by Mark Kosiewski, began erecting nest boxes in an attempt to restore Barn Owl populations in the Triangle area of North Carolina. The goal is to place at least 25 boxes in north central Chatham County, southwestern Orange County and northern Durham County. In time, New Hope Audubon hopes to educate landowners about the benefits of Barn Owls, and to work with other organizations to begin a regional movement. To date, we have installed 12 owl boxes at various sites in Chatham and Orange Counties.
The Barn Owl (Tyto alba) was once a common resident of central North Carolina farmlands, where sheltered wooden structures and large fields were present. Since the 1950s, however, Barn Owls have experienced a precipitous decline in our area. Changes in land use practices, encroaching development, overuse of pesticides, predation and the removal of old barns have made the Barn Owl increasingly rare in the Piedmont. The New Hope Audubon Society believes that with efforts such as erecting boxes for housing and advocating for less use of rodenticides, the Barn Owl could be seen routinely in this area again!
Mark Kosiewski, Norm Budnitz, and Robin Moran install our first Barn Owl box at Mason Farm in Chapel Hill, NC.
The Barn Owl is more than just a beautiful raptor. A single Barn Owl family can consume up to 3,000 mice, voles and rats per year, improving crop yields, decreasing pest control costs, and possibly limiting the spread of tick-borne illnesses. As North Carolinians seek more sustainable ways to maintain their rural buffers, the Barn Owl offers impressive economic and environmental benefit.
Recent research has shown that placement of properly designed nest boxes in appropriate habitat can dramatically improve population densities of these amazing raptors. Restoration programs in California, Pennsylvania, Florida and other states have been successful in restoring Barn Owl numbers to more sustainable levels. Most of these programs have taken place in agricultural areas similar to those in central North Carolina.
- Barn Owls need about 50 acres of open grassland/agricultural land.
- Each installation costs approximately $250 (nest box, pole, hardware and concrete).
If you would like to read about the details of this project, click here to go to a blog of the installation events as they unfold. If you would like to make a donation, click on this link and write "Barn Owl Nest Boxes" in the message area. We will acknowledge your contribution for this project in our blog.