Burrowing owls (Photo by Don Dabbs)

Burrowing owls (Photo by Don Dabbs)

Digging deep for burrowing owls

Migrant captive bred burrowing owl keeps an eye on burrow dig volunteers on NCC lands in the Kilpoola Grasslands of the South Okanagan, BC (Photo by Dianne Bersea)

Migrant captive bred burrowing owl keeps an eye on burrow dig volunteers on NCC lands in the Kilpoola Grasslands of the South Okanagan, BC (Photo by Dianne Bersea)

This fall, dozens of volunteers joined the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of BC to dig 22 new burrows on the Napier Lake Ranch Conservation Area, south of Kamloops, British Columbia.

Creating burrows is the first step in reintroducing burrowing owls to these grasslands and mating pairs of captive-bred birds will be released on the site in the new year.

Burrowing owls, who nest in the ground, became extirpated (locally extinct) in BC in the 1970s. Now, thanks to the combined efforts of reintroduction programs and habitat conservation projects, this charming species is making a comeback in BC’s grasslands.

NCC and the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society have been working together on burrowing owl reintroduction projects since 2012, when NCC created the Sage and Sparrow Conservation Area near Osoyoos in the South Okanagan. Several owls have been successfully released on this site in the past few years, with more to come.

Check out the volunteers hard at work creating habitat for burrowing owls below:

  • Volunteers carry supplies out to various sites on Napier Lake Ranch Conservation Area, BA (Photo by NCC)
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    Carrying supplies on Napier Lake Ranch Conservation Area (Photo by NCC)
  • The group installed 22 burrows, spread out at eight different sites on the conservation area (Photo by NCC)
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    The group installed 22 burrows, spread out across the area (Photo by NCC)
  • Mattocks and pick axes helped break through the hard ground (Photo by NCC)
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    Mattocks and pick axes helped break through the hard ground (Photo by NCC)
  • Diggers came in all ages and sizes! (Photo by NCC)
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    Diggers came in all ages and sizes! (Photo by NCC)
  • Each burrow requires a 10 foot trench ending in a two and half foot hole (Photo by NCC)
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    Each burrow needs a 10 foot trench ending in a 2.5 foot hole (Photo by NCC)
  • Once the trench is dug, the burrow is fitted in one end, then the tunnel pipe connects to the entrance at the other end (Photo by NCC)
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    The tunnel pipe connects to the entrance and end of burrow (Photo by NCC)
  • A completed burrow (Photo by NCC)
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    A completed burrow (Photo by NCC)
  • Volunteers got creative with burrow entrances, giving these new homes great curb appeal (Photo by NCC)
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    Volunteers got creative with burrow entrances (Photo by NCC)
  • Burrowing owls just like these ones will be introduced to these burrows in the spring (Photo by Dianne Bersea)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Burrowing owls (Photo by Dianne Bersea)

 

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