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Barn Owls in Idaho dying in large numbers
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Joined: 19 Mar 2006
Posts: 1343
Location: Albany, NY, USA

PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am absolute perplexed as to why you continue to cling to your theory that Barn Owls populations will increase if we provide more habitat in New York. It is completely inconsistent with the facts for the past 100 years.

In the last two weeks I have contacted a number of people in NYS government who do research on Barn Owls. To the best of my knowledge we have contacted everyone involved to inquire about your theory. Everyone disagrees with your theory. Here is why:

The PRIMARY reason why Barn Owls cannot survive in New York is because the most southerly location in New York is the northern boundary for Barn Owls to exist. They simply cannot survive in New York. Now, here is why they cannot exist:

1. New York has too much snow cover, and they will starve.
2. Barn Owls do not have enough fat to keep them warm in our cold climate.
3. Barn Owls do not have enough feather insulation to survive.

You can create all the ideal habitat you want, but biologically they cannot exist due to the climate. Here is a list of researchers who have done studies that Barn Owls cannot tolerate the cold weather in places like New York:

1952 Stwart
1969 Hennig
1971 Glue & Nuttell
1985 Marti & Wagner
1987 Madge & Tyson
1987 Shawyer
1989 Tayler
More recently a large study was done in Western US that once again agreed with researchers in the past.

In the past few years, NYS has purchased over 100,000 acres, and the population of Barn Owls has not been increased. If anything, it has decreased. Some of this land is ideal Barn Owl habitat. Some areas have some of the highest population densities of owls. People come from many states to see owls at these locations.

While New York does have a very small population of Barn Owls, the majority of them are at our most southerly locations. There are three specific locations:

1. JFK Airport
2. Staten Island
3. One location on Long Island

The reason they exist there is because there are large tracts of land with lots of prey and NO cars! When they do venture outside of their limited protection, death comes quickly by impacts.

Impact deaths has further been studied by the US Dept of Agriculture. In one of their studies, they found Barn Owls are the most common owl to die of impacts. Of all the impact deaths here is the percentage:

46% Barn Owls
12% SEO
7% GHO

Barn Owls die of impacts 400% more often the SEOs which are the number two owl to die of impacts. Barn Owls have a SIGNIFICANT problems with impacts. To protect them, you need to get them away from population. With the most popular places to find Barn Owls being New York City, it is not hard to believe impact deaths are a significant problem for barn owls in New York. I cannot understand why you can't see this.

There has been some talk of providing barn owl houses and some protection of habitat at these 3 locations in NYC. But this is just a theory, and not support by scientific research. After the US Air crash in the Hudson, it is unlikely this will happen. If anything, the populations will be reduced.

We do have a very small number in south-western New York. Most of these are located in farmers barns, where they have a warmer winter roosting location. But, these farms are considered artificial habitats. There has been some considerable conversations about adapting farms to help increase populations. There are a number of factors. Farms have been decreasing which hurts this situation. But, on the other hand farm structures have been deteriorating which helps them. Lost barns usually keep their silos. Hay is now kept outside instead of inside. Farms have moved towards crops instead of hay. But, corn is now kept inside which increases prey inside. Farmers have stopped using poisons and now use other methods, like cats. The end result is that changes to farms will negate in changes in barn owl populations.

Now for a few other facts. New York has an area of 49,108 square miles where the UK has an area of 151,372 square miles. Not a 1-to-1 factor as you claimed. A majority of the population of New York is in NYC, and many people there do not own cars. Using correlations population and area is idiotic and shallow in thought. Someone elses words, not mine.

There has been significant work in New York on Barn Owls in the last five years, most of which is not published, but is available. Some of the conclusions contradict previous work.

Some of the people I contacted tell me that they have never heard of you, and cannot find any information on your education. Can you tell us where you got your PhD in biology?

Can you also provide us with the names of the people you contacted in New York that provided you with your data and theory?
Always looking for Owls in Greene County NY
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Joined: 22 Nov 2009
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 6:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Back to the orginal thread topic, It took 3 years and 800+ owls getting killed, to figure out WHY these animals were being killed...I mean come on 800 owls had to die first....geesh. Sorry but that is just wrong.

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