Owl Project Update: April 2021

An extreme closeup of a Long-eared Owl taken from the window.

Columbus Audubon is proud to sponsor the Central Ohio Owl Research Project led by Dr Blake Mathys.

Blake Mathys holding a banded Log-eared Owl

The Central Ohio Owl Project was very successful this winter. Over 1600 owl sightings were submitted to the project; the most often reported species was Barred Owl, with Great Horned Owl a close second. The three species on which the project focuses, Barn Owl, Long-eared Owl, and Northern Saw-whet Owl, were reported regularly, but it will require some time to examine the details of the reports and determine actual numbers.

In some cases, the target species were reported in areas without any historical eBird reports, supporting the original premise of the project that these owl species are more common and widespread than previously believed. Targeted searches also revealed wintering owls of all three target species, although the heavy snow at the end of the winter slowed down the searches.

I was able to capture and band a total of 16 Northern Saw-whet Owls during their migration (most in the fall), and was able to band 3 wintering Long-eared Owls, which will help provide information about whether the individuals return to use the same wintering locations in multiple years. Overall, the research turned out very well and I’m excited to continue next winter!

For more information about the Owl Project, see the project page at the Ohio Dominican University website.