Today’s Poll

Public asked to help track rare owl by listening for bird's call

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
May 12th, 2011

Breeding season for the western screech-owl has begun, and with it comes a bird call that the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) is asking the public to listen for.

Listed as an endangered species both federally and provincially, the FWCP is looking to track these owls to better understand their distribution, range and habitat use.

“Once we locate a breeding pair we can often tag and track them, and their young, through radio telemetry,” said FWCP wildlife biologist Irene Manley.

“We are particularly looking for reports from Trail through to Castlegar and Nelson, and throughout the Slocan Valley to Nakusp.”

The western screech-owl nests in natural tree cavities, especially in large mature cottonwood and aspen. Continued loss and degradation of riparian habitat and removal of cottonwood trees has resulted in substantial declines in western screech-owl populations, particularly in the West Kootenay area, which only has about 10 pairs of these owls residing in the area.

“The bird’s name is also a bit of a misnomer,” adds Manley. “These owls seldom screech but have a soft, short ‘bouncing ball’ hoot – as if you were to drop a ball and the bounces get shorter towards the end.”

To listen to its call see the audio link in the Need to Know media centre version of this story.

Suspected sightings can be reported to 352-6874 or

This project is supported by the FWCP, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Columbia Basin Trust and FortisBC. The FWCP is delivered through a partnership between BC Hydro, the Province of B.C. and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Western Screech-Owl — Jakob Dulisse photo.


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