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Ohioans asked to report barn owl sightings

Norwalk Reflector Staff • May 18, 2014 at 8:07 PM

The summer of 2013 was successful for barn owl sightings in Ohio.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Wildlife counted 82 nests in 190 next boxes, the third-highest number since Ohio's barn owl nest box program began in 1988. The public reported 22 more confirmed barn owl observations in 15 counties, the highest number of reports received.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife continues to track barn owl nests. Please call the ODNR Division of Wildlife at 1-800-WILDLIFE (945-3543) or email wildinfo@dnr.state.oh.us to report a barn owl nesting or living near you.

Barn owls typically begin laying eggs in late April or early May, and the young will hatch about a month later. The summer months are the best time to find barn owls because they frequently return to their nest to feed their young, and will often spend the day on or near the nest.

Barn owls are easily identified by their white, heart-shaped face, large black eyes and golden brown and gray back. Adult barn owls communicate with shrieks and hissing-like calls, while the calls of young barn owls begging their parents for food are often heard on late summer nights. Finding pellets is another indication that barn owls may be living nearby. Pellets are regurgitated bones and fur of the owl's food.

Small rodents that live in hayfields and pastures are a barn owl's main food source. A pair of barn owls and their young can eat more than 1,000 rodents in one year. As their name suggests, barn owls find shelter in barns or other dark buildings they can enter, like silos. These buildings provide a safe place for them to rest in the day and to raise their young.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife has provided shelter for barn owls since 1988 by placing nest boxes on more than 400 barns. Nest boxes provide an opportunity for barn owls to nest in barns that they couldn't otherwise enter, and this program has been successful at increasing barn owl populations in Ohio. The number of nests has increased from 19 at the beginning of the program to more than 100 in 2012.

ODNR Division of Wildlife biologists have observed barn owl nests in areas other than in these boxes. Reporting barn owls will help biologists know how many more live in Ohio. Learn more about barn owls at wildohio.gov.

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