Morning introduction and planning session.
The work day complete.
Starting in 1992, our volunteers began traveling to the Nicola Valley, to meet with landowners and construct new burrow complexes at carefully selected sites. These field trips occur each spring and fall and they are a great time for all those interested in wildlife conservation.
One of the causes of the decline in the Burrowing Owl population was the loss of habitat, for nesting and shelter. Burrowing Owls depend to some degree on burrowing mammals such as badgers and marmots, to create the natural cavities that they will use to establish a breeding or shelter den. (Like many of us, they will move into a place and make minor renovations, but they rely on others to actually build the structure).
Nicola Lake burrow construction.
Artificial burrows have been shown to be an effective way to provide, safe secure nesting burrows and shelter for burrowing owl families. They are much more sturdy, being made out of plastic pipe, buckets and wood. They are an effective defense against attacks by digging animals such as coyotes.
As with all parts of this program we have gained insight into what the owls need made gradual improvements in our design and placement. Over the years we have learned a great deal about “burrow technology”. We have learned about selecting better materials, how to build better nesting chambers, how to place burrows for the safety of the birds and improve their hunting opportunities.
The work is not easy. Most of the soil is glacial till and is hard digging. Since 1992, we have constructed over 700 artificial burrows, ranging from the Lac du Bois grasslands south through the Nicola Valley as far as Merritt.
The spring field trip is usually set for the end of April when the yearling owls are ready for release. Participants help with building new burrows, cleaning and checking the existing burrows and helping to enhance the habitat surrounding the burrows. The locations are mapped and marked by our field staff.
Most of our work is done on private land. None of this would be possible without the support and interest of the landowners. We are extremely grateful for their continued participation.
Good life on the prairie.