Alberta Nocturnal Owl Survey



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About the Alberta Nocturnal Owl Survey

In the past few decades there has been increasing concern over the status of both diurnal and nocturnal raptors. Birds of prey are high on the food chain, making them vulnerable to many environmental factors, such as toxicants (e.g., DDT, Carbofuran) as well as habitat loss. As such, they may be valuable indicators of environmental health and many species of raptors have been chosen as indicator species in various regions. Information on distribution, abundance, and population trends of owl species is required for developing sound conservation strategies, identifying species in need of particular conservation action, and evaluating the effectiveness of current management programs. Most species of nocturnal owls are poorly monitored by existing multi-species surveys, such as the Breeding Bird Survey, Migration Monitoring, and Christmas Bird Counts.

Broadcast surveys are one of the most widely used techniques to locate and survey owls. Owls vocalize to communicate with their mates and delineate territory. Imitating or broadcasting tape recordings of owl vocalizations can invoke vocal responses from many species of owls. The purpose of the Alberta Nocturnal Owl survey is to collect information to help determine status of species, and to act as an early warning signal if populations are declining.

The goals of this program are to:

  1. obtain information on distribution of nocturnal owls in Alberta
  2. estimate relative abundance of owls
  3. collect information that will lead to estimating population trends of nocturnal owls at regional and provincial scales, as well as contribute to a North America-wide program.
  4. determine habitat associations of nocturnal owls.

Volunteers are needed to help run owl surveys during March, April, and early May. Only two nights (approximately two hours each night) are required for these surveys. The volunteer needs to provide their own vehicle (or mode of transportation) and can supply their own ghetto blaster or borrow one from our supply. A tape or CD will be provided with the calls of owls and a monitoring manual will be provided. Volunteers can also apply for tax relief on mileage incurred during this work.



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