January 27, 2021
Giving a hoot about owls begins with knowing that the Alberta Wildlife Act protects active raptor nests from any disturbance by people!
Free OWL QUIZ when you finish reading this blog!
January marks the beginning of owl nesting season
Many species of raptor (Owls, Hawks, Eagles, Falcons etc) begin their mating and nesting seasons earlier than most Albertans might think.
Great horned owls for example may begin establishing nesting territories and setting up nests as early as January. That’s an awfully crisp and cool time of year to be sitting on a pile of sticks trying to hatch an egg!
Owlets on the edge!
When most people think of nests, they think of deep, basket-shaped, feather-lined structures, but the truth for great horned owls can be much different. The platform nests they often use can leave their eggs and their young exposed to the Alberta elements, that is unless mom is there to keep them toasty warm. As a result, its easy to see why survival of baby owls can be pretty tenuous. Unattended owlets can easily succumb to the elements, or fall prey to ravens, and a host of other predators. Thats why it’s very important that the parents are not disturbed by human activity during the nesting period.
Alberta’s owls and their nesting habits are diverse
Great horned owls aren’t Alberta’s only owls, but they do happen to be one of the earliest nesters. Some other owls we might find nesting in Alberta include species like Saw-whet Owls which nest in tree cavities, Long-eared Owls that nest in abandoned crow & magpie nests in scrubby tree & shrub stands, Short-eared Owls that nest right on the open ground, and Burrowing owls which nest underground.
Owl nests are protected
The vulnerability of nests and nestlings is so important for all raptors (owls, hawks, eagles, falcons) that the Alberta Wildlife Act protects active raptor nests from any disturbance by people. That means that any land clearing or industrial activity happening in or near tree / shrub stands, or even fields and grasslands during their nesting season (January through July) could not only be causing some dangerously chilly and unhappy baby owls, but could also be a violation of the law! Thats why you should call a professional wildlife biologist for advice before doing any land clearing or causing any ground disturbance.
Give us a hoot!
Where the heck do you find a professional wildlife biologist? That’s a good question, just contact us and we will put you in touch with a good one!
Alberta Owls Quiz