10/23/217 - It was a beautiful day in the field on the Long-eared Owl Project. We were joined by dedicated volunteer, Steve Hiro, and second year volunteer, all the way from Ohio, Angie Marbais. We combed two, thickly-wooded draws, flushing 13 owls (11 Long-eared Owls and 2 Great-Horned Owls) and capturing four Long-eared's for banding and data collection. The Long-eared Owl project season is off to a great start. The following day, 22 Long-eared owls were flushed in a separate, but nearby, study site.
In regard to the numbers Research Matt Larson said this "is not an abnormal event, especially in the fall. It seems like we've had a lot of owls in the fall the last couple of years, but they haven't stayed through the winter and into the breeding season. It certainly seems like there are good numbers heading into winter, though." The ORI will post updates moving forward.
The Owl Research Institute began the Long-eared Owl study in western Montana in 1987. Over these 30 years, many questions about the species have come up. Research questions regarding clutch size, hatching success, fledging success, food habits, nest-site characteristics, winter roost-site characteristics, molt, migration, among others, have been answered through our data and observations. We've also conducted DNA and other molecular studies to answer descriptive queries. Overall, however, we are most proud of our long-term data on local populations, which indicate that Long-eared Owl numbers are declining. We are unsure of the factors influencing this and are presently trying to generate interest from other states and groups to conduct more widespread monitoring for this species. Our Long-Eared Owl study is, as far as we know, the longest running study of its kind in the world.