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Making Life Better for Owls at Otter Ponds

By Dan Hutt 

[Note: The Otter Ponds Demonstration Forest (OPDF) in Mooseland is a 1,595 acre woodland operated as a division of the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association. OPDF is a place for all Nova Scotians to learn about forest ecology and the sustainable management of our native Acadian Forest.]

Otter Ponds is now a research site for a study into the breeding and migration of the Boreal Owl and Northern Saw-whet Owl. St. Francis-Xavier University researcher Randy Lauff, and his assistant Chad Brazier, installed eight nesting boxes at Otter Ponds in the hopes that some of them will be homes to owl families in the spring.  

"The owls are probably there, already,” says Randy, "but the nesting boxes make it much easier for me to follow their progress.”  Much of the day was spent looking for just the right location: lots of canopy cover, but fairly open below so the owls can fly around easily. Not too much under-story so the owls can see their prey of mice, voles and shrews. And no noisy burbling brooks which makes it hard for the owls to hear the prey. 

If you own a woodlot or have access to one, you may want to install your own owl nesting box. The plans for the boxes shown here are available at: http://people.stfx.ca/rlauff/research/nestboxplans.doc 

School groups, woodlot owners, and individuals or organizations that are interested in sustainable forest management are invited to visit Otter Ponds. Contact Andy Kekacs, project manager, at 902-817-4763 or andy.nswooa@gmail.com. 

Dan Hutt is a member of the board of OPDF. 

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