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Barred Owls in Montana with UM grad student Adam Potts

This year, ORI is supporting University of Montana graduate student Adam Potts with his master's thesis, studying Barred Owls in Montana.

He shared some photos and information about his project with us:

A white man wearing thick dark glasses stands outside in the snow with snowshoes strapped to his back
Adam Potts

I'm Adam Potts, a graduate student in the University of Montana's Environmental Studies program. The subject of my master's thesis is the Barred Owl, a relatively recent addition to the state’s avifauna. Very little is understood about their habitat preferences in Montana—a large gap in knowledge that I hope to address in a small way with my research.

The selection of a nest site is a critical part of most owls’ life cycles, and the Barred Owl is no different. My efforts will center on finding as many nest sites as possible, and comparing their characteristics to random plots in the surrounding forest. To this end, I have already begun extensive broadcast surveys along roads and trails to locate barred owl territories. This spring I will return to these territories and intensively search for nest trees. With luck, I will find a decent number of nest trees, and will return once again in the summertime to conduct my habitat measurements.

To my knowledge, I have started conducting some of the first systematic transects for detecting this species in Montana. The Seeley-Swan Valley is the project’s core study area, but I have also found a number of owl territories in other parts of western Montana: the upper Blackfoot, the Mission Valley, around Tally Lake, the Missoula area, and a handful between Helena and Deer Lodge. My efforts in the mountains around Bozeman (where I live with my wife and young son) have so far been unsuccessful.

Adam shared this video of a duetting pair of Barred Owls in the Swan Valley area of Montana.


We will have updates from Adam later in the season!


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