Posted by: atowhee | October 27, 2013

CALIFORNIA FIRE: BAD NEWS FOR RARE SPECIES

GGO-DADHere’s a recent report on the possible wildlife toll taken by the recent Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park in eastern California’s Sierra.

The Great Gray Owl is already on the California state endangered species list. There may be only 200 of the big birds living in California, all in a limited relict population centered on Yosemite. It’s likely young Great Gray Owls in the burned area would have perished. They are not strong flyers at mid-summer. The adults would have left ahead of the flames but there’s likely to be serious damage to needed breeding and hunting habitat. Plus, the fire would certainly have devoured the owl’s necessary food supply: small ground-dwelling rodents that would never have escaped the fire. With winter near the relocated adults may even have trouble surviving as they will now have to fight for hunting territories with owls already in place.

Great Gray Owls in our Pacific Slope population are sedentary, rarely moving more than a few miles over the course of a year. The Yosemite area owls are the only ones in California. Our population here in southwestern Oregon is the nearest group of breeding Great Gray Owls. We’re more than 300 miles away as the owl flies so our birds are never likely to re-populate Yosemite if those birds dwindle in number or disappear entirely.


Responses

  1. HI Harry,
    Wayne and I had a great time on Sat. as we always do when we go birding with you. Slowly learning this and that and how to tell this from that. Also enjoy all the background knowledge you share, not just identification. So as long as you don’t mind, we’ll keep tagging along.
    I had asked you about a relatively easy reference for migration patterns and you mentioned that you knew one which might have maps.
    Thank you for sharing so graciously.
    Joan Brown


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