Little is known about barred owl dispersal patterns in western North America, and I am a co-PI on a new project that is designed to fill that knowledge gap. The work – led by UW-Madison graduate student Whitney Watson – is taking place in California’s coastal redwood region, where barred owl densities are high relative to the Sierra Nevada, but still below what is thought to be their carrying capacity.
Recently, seven of us headed out from Madison to Mendocino county to capture and GPS tag adults. That data will inform acoustic surveys we will be conducting in the area and will help lead us to nest sites later in the season. We caught five birds in the first four nights, which is as many as we caught in each of two whole seasons of work in the Sierra. I suspect this is a function of density: there are (many) more birds to target, and they respond more aggressively to decoys because territorial interactions are more common. Interestingly, they were all more docile in-hand than the Sierra birds.