National Nocturnal Owl Surveys
on distribution, abundance, and population trends of all North American
nocturnal owl species is required for developing sound conservation
strategies, identifying species in need of particular conservation action,
and evaluating the effectiveness of current management programs. Most
species of nocturnal owls are poorly monitored by existing multi-species
surveys, such as the Breeding Bird Survey, Migration Monitoring, and
Christmas Bird Counts.
Broadcast surveys are one of the
most widely used techniques to locate and survey owls. This survey
technique has been used to document the range and status of several owl
species in North America, and can also be used to determine habitat
Representatives from the main
volunteer surveys in Canada met in September 1999 to develop a set of
standards for owl monitoring. The outcome of that meeting was agreement on
a set of standard components that should be incorporated into roadside
surveys for breeding owls. These meetings, with subsequent discussions,
have led to development of guidelines for survey protocols that we hope
will be adopted by all organizations running nocturnal roadside surveys
for owls. The North American-wide initiative was developed to achieve the
- Obtaining information on
distribution of owls.
- Estimating relative abundance
of owls within regions and across North America.
- Estimating trends in
populations of nocturnal owls at scales ranging from regional (ie.
province, state) to continental.
- Determining habitat
associations of owls.
Several regions of Canada have
established volunteer-based nocturnal roadside surveys for breeding owls.
In 2001 in Ontario, 172 surveyors participated in the Ontario Nocturnal
Owl Survey (275 routes run). In British Columbia and southern Yukon, 177
owlers listened at 2072 stops and heard 308 owls of eight owl species.
Manitoba's Nocturnal Owl survey had 91 participants who surveyed 57
routes and there were 0.27 owls/station surveyed. Alberta's volunteer
program has run two pilot years, with 25 volunteers and 30 transects. New
Brunswick's Nocturnal Owl Surveys had 170 participants survey 84 routes
and on Cape Breton 30 volunteers surveyed 22 routes.
These surveys appear to be an
effective means of monitoring many species of owls. These procedures are
designed for broad scale monitoring of relative abundance, distribution,
habitat use, and changes in these parameters over time. The guidelines
will be integrated into the North American Raptor Monitoring Strategy
being developed through the United States Geological Service, Raptor
Research Foundation, Snake River Field Station, and Boise State
University, Raptor Research Center.
There are coordinators for volunteer
surveys in several regions. Contact information is provided below.
To participate in the national program, for information on setting
up a volunteer program, or to receive a copy of the Guidelines for
Nocturnal Owl Monitoring in North America contact: Jody Allair - Phone -
1-888-448-2473 or E-mail:
The Guidelines are also available
by downloading here.
You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to read or
print this file. If you don't have this program, it can be downloaded
free of charge at:
Lisa Takats Priestley, Beaver
Hill Bird Observatory, Box 1418, Edmonton, AB T5J 2N5 E-mail:
Laura McFarlane Tranquilla, Bird Studies
Canada, P.O. Box 6227, 17 Waterfowl Lane, Sackville, NB E4L 1G6.
Ph: (709) 770-6923, E-mail:
Dick Cannings, Bird Studies Canada, 1330 Debeck Road,
S.11, C.96, RR#1, Naramata, BC V0H 1N0. Ph: (250) 496-4049, E-mail:
Jim Duncan, Manitoba
Conservation, Box 24, 200 Saulteaux Crescent, Winnipeg, MB R3J 3W3. Ph:
(204) 945-7465, E-mail:
Tracy Hillis, 3510 McDonald
Drive, Yellowknife, NT X1A 2H1 E-mail:
Kathy Jones, Bird Studies
Canada, P.O. Box 160, Port Rowan, ON N0E 1M0. Ph: (519) 586-3531 Ext. 124, E-mail:
Andrew Coughlan, Bird Studies Canada,
Études d'Oiseaux Canada 801-1550, avenue d'Estimauville Québec,
Québec G1J 0C3 Ph: 1-866-518-0212 E-mail: