Long-Eared Owls Benefit from Conservation Efforts

Recently, McKenzie River Trust Board member, Bev Hollander, received a call from veterinarian, Ulrike Streicher, at Cascades Raptor Center wondering if McKenzie River Trust had any conservation properties in the Creswell area. It turns out a baby Long-Eared Owl had been found on the ground directly adjacent to a property protected by McKenzie River Trust through a conservation easement – Hollyer Prairie – having fallen from the nest.  

Young owls frequently leave the nest before they can fly – it’s called ‘branching’ – and then can be found on the ground.  They can climb a tree just using their talons, beak, and flapping their under-developed wings to return to their nest. Clearly, this little guy was unable to do so. This was a very surprising rescue as this baby was only the 8th long eared owl in the Center’s 30-year existence. Long-Eared Owls are relatively rare in this area and are considered endangered in certain areas.

Long-Eared Owl Parent | Courtesy of Bev Hollander

Several reasons that the Long-Eared Owl is endangered include lack of habitat due to land development, the spread of agricultural fields, and the reforestation of areas that used to be open. The decline of nesting sites has also led to its endangerment. As of now, the Long-Eared Owl is not on the national endangered species list but is on various State’s endangered lists.

Ulrike Streicher of the Cascades Raptor Center returns the young owl to it’s nest at Hollyer Prairie | Courtesy of Bev Hollander

The owl appeared to be healthy, just young and unable to fly or climb back to its nest. With the help of the landowner, Ulrike was able to locate the nest tree stand, and the following evening, hoisted the little one back up into a tree there for the anxious parent to fly right back into the next with the little one.

Ulrike stressed the importance of local conservation efforts. She believes that this type of land protection is the reason this owl family is surviving, and even thriving.  Ulrike shared that the Hollyer Prairie property provides the necessary hunting grounds to support Long-Eared Owls with its open fields and grasslands.  The owls roost in adjacent dense vegetation and hunt in the open.