Whooo’s there?

Whooo’s there?

Regular readers of Ohio Cooperative Living may recall a story that ran exactly a year ago titled “Give a hoot,” describing a statewide wintering-owl study to be conducted by Blake Mathys, an Ohio Dominican University associate professor and Union Rural Electric Cooperative member. Mathys asked for readers’ participation in the study, and co-op members responded in droves.

An owl observed during wintering-owl study.

Overall, eight species of owls were recorded during the wintering-owl study: barred owl, barn owl, Eastern screech owl, great horned owl, long-eared owl, Northern saw-whet owl, short-eared owl, and snowy owl.

“More than 1,600 owl sightings were reported to the project,” says Mathys. “Of those submitted, about half were able to be assigned to species with some certainty, based on a submitted photo, recording, or description.”

He says he received reports from 87 of Ohio’s 88 counties, with only Jefferson County in eastern Ohio lacking. The top five counties for reported submissions were Hamilton (19.4%), Franklin (7.6%), Butler (6.1%), Warren (5.4%), and Clermont (4.8%). 

Two of the more exciting reports were from rural residents who had long-eared owls roosting literally right outside their windows. “I visited both locations,” Mathys says. “One was in Union County and the other in Allen County. It was quite an experience to stand in a bedroom and look out the window at long-eared owls perched just a few feet away.”

Overall, eight species of owls were recorded: barred owl, barn owl, Eastern screech owl, great horned owl, long-eared owl, Northern saw-whet owl, short-eared owl, and snowy owl.  

While Mathys had not finished his analysis as of early November, the data seem to support his hypothesis that there are a lot more owls around than previously thought. “For instance, Union County had only two long-eared owls ever reported to eBird before this study, but between submitted reports and targeted searches, five long-eared owls were found there during last winter alone,” he says. “Overall, it was a very successful project, and I really want to thank all my fellow co-op members who participated by sending me sighting information.” 

For more details of the wintering-owl study, contact Blake Mathys at mathysb@ohiodominican.edu