To determine if an area is suitable habitat for the Barred owl, a number of important criteria must be met. First, is there a sufficient prey population to sustain two or more owls? Second, is there suitable tree species for the owls to roost and nest? Barred Owls prefer dense tree cover and only nest in hollowed trees, thus the trees must be big enough. Third, are there an abundence of predators or competitors in the area? A large population of Great Horned Owls or the presence of other animals who use the same trees to nest or hunt the same prey would likely discourage nesting behavior for Barred Owls. Finally, is there a presence of a natural or artificial disturbence in the area that may reduce suitability? The presence of a large population of humans, a major roadway, or a number of other issues could make the area less appealing to the Barred Owl.
Last year, the Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) for Barred owls was determined for this section of the greenway trails. You can refer to the “Research Project” section for that data. We recently started an intense vegetation study of three random plots that will be used as a part of assessing this section of greenway. We will be recording various abiotic measurements (i.e. soil temp., air temp., wind velocity, relative humidity, light intensity at forest floor) throughout the fall at each of our plots to look for changes and to also measure the health of the forest. We are also measuring vegetative cover and diameter at breast height (DBH) of trees at each plot.
Other notes: We watched a raccoon feed and then cross the creek. We also observed two baby turtles “swim” down the creek. On our way back to the barn, a copperhead crossed our path.