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Posted by: atowhee | September 7, 2014

BEING WILD

Peter Thiemann has made contact with landowners in the Applegate Valley who are proud neighbors of nesting Great Gray Owls. At 10am this morning Peter and a landowner came across a roosting GGO on the private ranch. Then the owners shared some of their trail cam photos from a year-round waterhole that is spring fed:1030:072114:63F:2774:CAMERA1   :6

1629:090514:81F:2763:CAMERA1   :3

1659:082014:72F:2766:CAMERA1   :6

1039:082814:63F:2785:CAMERA1   :1
The owls in the Applegate are nesting at about 2000′ elevation, far lower than in Cascades just twenty-five east. The habitat is mixed forest including oak, madrone, maple and Doug-fir. The Appleagte GGOs live in a hotter, dryer habitat than any other known population of the species. This is the only known Great gray Owl population in the Siskiyous and the only one that is west Interstate 5 anywhere. The largest number of Great Grays are in boreal forests of Canada, Alaska and the far north of Eurasia.

This ranch will be the recipient of a nest platform, part of the Rogue Valley Audubon program to help Great Grays in Jackson County. Last month we put up two on a ranch near Grizzly Peak in the Cascades. If you can donate please. Here’s the information: GGO PLATFORM PROGRAM—Harry Fuller

RVAS is helping place nest platforms for Great Gray Owls. Jackson County has 300-500 GGOs, mostly in the Cascades. A few are in the uplands along the Applegate River. That estimate’s from Steve Godwin, BLM’s chief biologist in the county. For about two decades BLM field biologists in southwestern Oregon have searched for Great Gray Owls during an annual spring survey. Great Grays are in eastern Josephine County and Klamath County. The only confirmed GGO population in northern California is a small one north of Alturas in Modoc County. There’s an isolated population around Yosemite.
Godwin assured me the recent forest fire east of Greensprings did NOT hit known GGO nesting habitat. That fire mostly burned commercial timber land, not the right habitat for the species.
Platforms are being made by volunteer and nature photographer, Peter Thiemann. Each needs to be carefully placed in dense, mature forest near meadows good for Great Gray hunting. A platform is put 35 feet above the ground by an experienced forestry worker. Donations go for materials and pay the person equipped to hang the platform.
One limitation to Great Grays’ population is lack of nesting places. Owls don’t build nests. They use cliffs, cavities, old nests for other species, manmade structures. GGOs do not use buildings, bridges, cavities or cliffs. Left to their own devices GGOs need a large tree trunk broken off at the right height or a nest built by Raven or Red-tail. Many of these natural nest sites are short-lived. A pair we monitored this spring on a private ranch near Grizzly Peak used a fast disintegrating Ravens’ nest. That area is where the first two platforms will be placed this fall.
There is good evidence of Great Gray Owls using nest platforms over many years. Here in the southern part of their range owls will pair and nest almost every season because food supplies—small rodents—are generally available. Further north lemming populations may crash leading to a dormant season where nests are fewer or non-existent. Platforms are now used for GGOs in Scandanavia, Canada and in their scattered nesting areas in the western U.S. One platform on private land near Howard Prairie Lake has been used both in 2013 and 2014.
If you can donate to the Great Gray Owl nest platform fund, please send check to RVAS, P.O. Box 8597, Medford OR 97501. Your donations are tax deductible.

The presence of mountain lion, black bear, Great Gray Owl and other alpha predators in Jackson County gives some life to a book I just finished reading. FERAL is by British journalist George Monbiot. It is a reasoned argument for rewildling. Read it if you care about stopping the headlong drive to turn our entire planet into either a shopping center or garden. FERAL is available as hardcover or ebook in America. If you have a British contact, they can mail you a paperback copy.

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