Executive director Lauren Meads and Pluto of the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society at the 2018 field trip. (file photo)

Volunteer to help save the burrowing owl in the South Okanagan

The Burrowing Owl Conservation Society is hosting a work party to help with owl habitat

A work bee for owls is planned for Oct. 19 by the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of B.C. (BOCS).

The field trip is an annual event where volunteers spend the day in the southern grasslands of the South Okanagan to do work now that the birds have migrated south.

Duties include digging new burrows, cleaning and repairs of existing dens following the summer season and removing invasive plants and vegetation from burrow entrances.

READ MORE: Video: Digging in for burrowing owls in the Okanagan/Nicola Valley

Last year, representatives of the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) joined the project which is done in partnership with the Nature Conservancy Canada in the first of a series of fall habitat restoration field trips.

Climate change has been one of the reasons for the society’s change in strategies with the organization’s partners in Canada and the United States that are working to increase the species’ numbers.

“That’s why this work with the burrows is so important. If the owls come back and everything’s (dens) filled up or there’s a bunch of grass in front or it’s filled up with water — so this really, really helps the owls that want to come back and breed again if we can get all their burrows sorted out,” said biologist Lauren Meads, BOCS executive director previously. “If they come to an area and there’s no burrow available to them then they’re going to move on and that creates extra risk to them for predation.”

READ MORE: Volunteers who give a hoot wanted for burrowing owl work party

There are about 20 spots available for those who would like to help and they generally go quickly so Meads advises those interested to sign up as soon as possible.

This event will take place in the newest site with the Nature Trust of BC in the White Lake area, south of Penticton.

“We will be working on installing a couple of burrows and fixing the fronts of the existing burrows with weed fabric,” said Meads. “This is your chance to reconnect with other members of the team, and share some good times .”

In their prime, the owls had previously used vacated dens of other animals including badgers, however there are few of those left and one of the mandates of the society over the years has been to build new ones for the birds of prey where they can raise their young in the spring and summer before their annual migration south.

In addition to this work, Meads operates a captive-breeding program out of their facilities on the Nature Trust’s property north of Oliver it shares with SORCO Raptor Rehab Centre.

To register for the field trip contact the society at lmeads@gmail.com


 

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Devika Shah of the World Wildlife Fund Canada shovels some of the dirt from an existing den last year near Cawston. (file photo)

Volunteers work to create a new den for returning burrowing owls near Cawston last year. (file photo)

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