William Jessup University’s Institute for Biodiversity and the Environment (IBE) is pleased to announce the birth of fledgling burrowing owls at one of the IBE’s artificial nest study sites on Placer Land Trust’s Swainson’s Preserve, just outside of Lincoln, California. Swainson’s Preserve is part of a network of preserve lands in Placer County. In addition to demonstrating nesting success by the owls with the use of artificial burrows, this study is helping recover this species locally in Placer County.
“Burrowing Owls have been experiencing population declines throughout California and are of conservation interest to the State of California and to the County of Placer. They are a “covered species” in the Placer County Conservation Program,” says Dr. Michael McGrann, Chairman of Jessup’s IBE.
The above-ground burrowing owl artificial nest study project, overseen by IBE Advisor and field biologist, Ed Pandolfino and Jessup undergraduate research assistant and science honor student, Tyler Rehrer documented, with the use of camera “traps”, at least five fledgling burrowing owls at this location. Tyler continues to closely monitor the burrows weekly, making observations and servicing the camera “traps”.
“While nesting success with above-ground artificial burrows often has negative results, one advantage of this type of burrow is that it can be used on vernal pool grasslands,” says Pandolfino. “These habitats often include state and federally-listed plants and animals so they are more likely to be preserved than other types of grassland.”
In addition to a $5,300 grant awarded to the IBE earlier this year from the Sierra Foothills Audubon Society, IBE has received another $5,580 grant from SFAS to continue the research on the use of artificial burrows into next field season. IBE hopes to expand with additional study sites at Doty Preserve and Placer Land Trust lands. The IBE is also collaborating with the Placer County Conservation Program on a number of projects.