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Atlantic Canada Nocturnal Owl Survey

What is it for?

Due to their secretive nature and nocturnal habits, owls are not well-monitored by other programs such as the Breeding Bird Survey and Christmas Bird Count. The Atlantic Canada Nocturnal Owl Survey was initiated in 2001 to:

  • Monitor abundance trends of 3 relatively common owl species (Barred Owl, Great-horned Owl and Northern Saw-whet Owl) ;
  • Gather distribution information for owls in Atlantic Canada:
  • Involve the public in actively monitoring the region's owl populations.

What does it involve?

Anyone can do this survey, you don't need to be an expert! Participants run their owl survey route once per year, during any evening from April 1st to May 15th (starting half an hour after sunset). Each route takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours to complete, and consists of 10 stops spaced 2 km (NB and PEI) or 1.6 km (NS) apart. At each stop, participants play a CD of owl calls (Boreal Owl and Barred Owl; Boreal Owl calls will attract both Northern Saw-whet Owls and Boreal Owls) interspersed with timed listening periods. Portable CD players and CDs are provided, along with a training CD of recordings of all possible species that could be heard in the region. Participants record the kinds and numbers of owls that respond to playback at each stop, and return these data to Bird Studies Canada for analysis. The Atlantic Canada Nocturnal Owl Survey follows the North American guidelines for monitoring nocturnal owls. Volunteers can receive a tax receipt for expenses (e.g. mileage, batteries, accommodation) incurred while running an owl survey route and will also receive an annual report of survey results.

How do I sign up?

If you'd like to survey a route (or two!), please contact Bird Studies Canada at the Atlantic Region office of Bird Studies Canada in Sackville, NB. Let us know where you live, and how far you're willing to drive to reach a route. Every attempt will be made to match volunteers with routes near their homes; however, existing routes will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. If you sign up for a route, you will receive a volunteer kit in late March which contains all the material you will need for your survey, including CDs, data sheets, instruction guide, map, and a description of your route. Anyone interested in knowing more about owl monitoring in Atlantic Canada can contact:

Bird Studies Canada - Atlantic Region
P.O. Box 6227
Sackville, N.B. E4L 1G6
Phone: (506) 364-5045

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